“You don’t understand how the real world works, Junior! You think it’s all dinner parties and business meetings? It’s survival of the fittest. You have to be tough and do whatever it takes to make it if you’re going to be successful.”
When my friend gave me a copy of The Cold Wife by Ruth Ann Nordin, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I always enjoy reading historical fiction novels as long as they don’t involve too much romance and are faithful to the period the story is set in… But reading the blurb and reviews at goodreads made me fear this one wouldn’t be of my taste. Unfortunately, my suspicions turned out to be correct. Flat characters, slow pace, descriptions that didn’t feel right for the 1894 setting… I’m afraid I cannot name a lot of positive points of this second novel in the Virginia Historical series. The general idea of a woman opposing an arranged marriage is without doubt an interesting topic, but the execution in The Cold Wife is unfortunately nothing but poor. The main character Carrie and her reactions are not believable and the way she interacts with her brother is almost childish. To be honest, the husband Justin wasn’t really believable either. I couldn’t connect to the prose and the story in general was almost boring. I’m still asking myself why I’ve even bothered to finish it… I guess I was hoping things would improve at some point, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case.
When Carrie’s father suddenly had to face bankrupcy, he didn’t want to leave his only daughter without a comfortable home. At the age of 24 Carrie Allen is old enough to be married, and her father decides to arrange for a marriage with the wealthy Justin Monroe. Although Justin is her brother’s friend, Carrie doesn’t care for him and she definitely doesn’t want to know anything about an arranged marriage. She wants to take care of her own life and decides to fight the union… But Carrie ends up being married to Justin anyway. Justin didn’t realize before Carrie didn’t want him as her husband and he offers her a deal: if after a month she still feels their marriage is wrong, he offers her an annulment. What Carrie doesn’t know is that Justin has been in love with her since he was fourteen, and he is determined to win her over… But Carrie is stubborn and refuses to believe that an arranged marriage could work. Can he win her over on time?
As you might have guessed from my previous comments, I would definitely not recommend reading The Cold Wife. The initial idea behind the novel is interesting, but it’s poorly executed with weak prose, flat characters and a storyline that is unbelievable in general. Such a shame, since this novel could have been so much more!