Harper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-059888-4
Contemporary Romance, 2007 (Reissue)
The downside of Janet Evanovich’s Loveswept stories getting reissued is that you will immediately notice that the author has been recycling her jokes since the late 1980’s when she decided to write romance novels for that now-defunct line. Even so, many of these books are good for light reads and heavy laughs, although I suspect that the laughter won’t be so hearty if I paid $7.99 for those books back then. But Wife for Hire is not one of those books where I am concerned.
Hank Malone faces a dilemma. He has inherited an apple orchard in his Vremont small town but he has image issues. He had pretty much slept with every willing woman in the area back in his teens and now the former hot stud is facing credibility issues when it comes to presenting a responsible front in order to get bank loans, et cetera, to finance the management of this orchard. He decides that the best way to demonstrate his new mellow sense of responsibility is to fake a marriage with some woman. Maggie Malone is that woman. She only wants to find a way to escape her dead end life in New Jersey and write a book based on the life of a honky-tonk hothouse madame ancestor’s life.
This book is written in a time when fake marriages are practically compulsory pre-mating rituals in the land of the stupid and bewildering between the pages of a romance novel, so if taken in that context, being caught reading Wife for Hire isn’t that embarrassing anymore. But this book remains very, very dated and the heroine’s supremely annoying indecisiveness when it comes to taking a crap or getting off the pot where the hero is concerned makes things worse.
But if you still can’t enough of this author’s increasingly repetitive punchlines, Grandma Mazur’s original prototype, Elsie Hawkins, shows up here once again brandishing that gun.
It’s not that bad, this book. It’s rather amusing at places… back in 1990. In 2007 when this book now costs more than three times the original cover price, this book is like a long-forgotten first boyfriend showing up to ask for a pity shag as well as the bus fare home. It gets a “Hell, no! What was I thinking back then!” reaction from me – it really hasn’t aged well in the last seventeen years or so.