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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

The Unwanted Wife

The Unwanted Wife - Natasha Anders 2.5 stars

This book does a lot of telling and very little showing.

The book begins two years into the marriage of Sandro and Theresa. They are having sex and at the moment of climax, Sandro asks Theresa to give him a son.

From there we are told that for the past two years this is how sex has always ended, that Sandro has been a cold husband, only wanting sex, doesn't kiss his wife on the mouth, doesn't know her birthday, doesn't know how she takes her coffee, hasn't introduced her to his family or any of his friends.

We are told a lot of things about this couple and this unhappy marriage, mainly from Theresa's justifiably bitter point of view. We hear it as she is recounting it in dribs and drabs to her usually shocked husband.

As I was reading this I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was reading a wish fulfillment fantasy. There have been times when I've read a book (mostly Harlequin Presents) where the hero (rich Italian guy who says cara a lot, just like Sandro does in this book) is cruel to the noble-feisty red-headed heroine (just like Theresa is in this book) and she is just miserable and unhappy. But even though they are both unhappy they can't resist the hot sex (just like they both are in this book). In those books there are lots of things I wish the heroine had said or done to the hero's tired Alpha-Hole ass. Well, Theresa does all that in this book. She says and does all the things you wish those doormat heroines would have said and done.

Problem is, that is 80% of the book. Theresa is She-Ra Princess of the Totally Pissed off because she has found out why her marriage is so awful (again, we are told this via a handily overhead telephone conversation). So the reader is treated to page after page after page of Theresa basically telling Sandro off a lot and telling him a lot about how terribly he treated her in the marriage.

As a result Sandro comes off really poorly as a character. He has no agency. None. He doesn't have a pov and we are never privy to his thoughts. He is effectively mute. A lot of what he does is standing around looking shocked because his doormat of an unwanted wife has finally decided to not be so doormatty.

At some point, I guess he realized he really loves her because he suddenly begins trying to spend time with her. And to make her love him. In the end we get a humongous monologue (again with the telling...) of all the thought processes he had during their whole marriage and why he acted the way he did.

On the whole I found this book incredibly frustrating. There was a nugget of a very good idea and story in there. And honestly some of the angst is effectively done. But truthfully, the book was just poorly executed. It was mostly dialogue with the two characters (mainly Theresa) talking a lot. It doesn't explore the characterizations very well at all. In fact Sandro and Theresa are really very one dimensional. He is super rich, Italian and has a job (not quite sure what he does exactly) that somehow makes him famous enough to be in the tabloids and have paparazzi stalking him that pictures up on the internet a lot. Theresa is red haired, no confidence and her rich father hates her and wouldn't let her have a puppy when she was a kid. That's it really.

So not a winner for me.