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The Wife of Reilly
By Jennifer Coburn
Review by Shannah Biondine
 


My teenage daughter has a saying that within any circle of "buds" there's always one who's the nutcase. Jennifer Coburn has crafted a tale in first person that leaves no doubt as to which friend is the nutcase amid the circle of New Yorkers we meet. From the first sentence, we know it's the main character, Prudence Malone. She plans to dump sweet, dependable hubby Reilly for another Matt, the one great love of her life. Prudence and Matt split up in college and have reconnected fourteen years later at a homecoming game.

Infidelity or the desire to recapture a lost love aren't necessarily crazy , but
most people draw the line at refusing to leave a spouse until they first find a replacement for themselves. Prudence not only secretly has a relationship going with Matt, but embarks on a search for Reilly's future wife. She masquerades as his sister and sets up "dates" with prospective candidates she finds through personal ads while poor unsuspecting Reilly is away on business.

Of course, we readily see, as her friends tried to insist, this is a bad idea. Her pragmatic approach is also cruel. Inevitably there will be a price. But just when you think you have this story figured out, the plot twists. The secondary characters are marvelous. An LA native myself, I was in stitches over Rick the infomercial guru, who never actually interacts with celebrities themselves yet drops famous names and unwanted New Age advice like change on a convenience store counter. And he's not nearly as flaky as a lot of the women who answer Prudence's ad.

I'd be remiss, though, if I didn't warn of a technical error midway into the book. Ms. Coburn's narrative descriptions of New Year's Eve celebrations infer that Matt experiences midnight on the West Coast prior to Prudence and Reilly in New York, reversing the three-hour time difference. The mistake is illogical enough to pull readers out of the story.

Despite this, overall I found "The Wife of Reilly" to be both amusing and insightful. Prudence is oddly lovable, despite the fact she hasn't learned to be careful what she wishes for and has some growing up to do. The novel features unconventional people in comic situations and still manages to be more than a standard romantic romp. It exposes essential truths about life, love, careers, family, and what truly matters most.

The Wife of Reilly ranks
* * * * stars

Published by Strapless, a division of Kensington Books,
Format: Print, 345 pages
ISBN 0-7582-0626-7
 



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Shannah Biondine writes fantasy and romance for LTDBooks and Double Dragon Publishing. Her paranormal romance "Sleight of Mind" will debut at Whiskey Creek Press in July 2004. Shannah won the 2002 Eppie for Best Fantasy/Paranormal Romance and has been a Dream Realms and Prism finalist as well as Romantic Times Reviewer Nominee. She lives in Ventura County CA with her family and writes full time.
Her author site is www.homestead/com.biondine

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Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.

 













   
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