Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Women’s Fiction.
Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words
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Grace Wen writes women's fiction and romance. She finds people fascinating and loves to ask her characters nosy questions to avoid being a real-life busybody. An Imperfect Wife, her debut women's fiction novella, won the runner-up spot for Love Romances Cafe's 2011 Best Contemporary Book.
Grace lives in southeastern Michigan with two neurotic but cute cats. When she's not writing, she's usually reading, cooking, or training for her next half marathon
Nicole and Josh met at college in Troy, NY. They fell in love and got married and lived the Troy small-town life for fifteen years. After a long period of unemployment, Josh lands a high-powered job, but it means moving away from their friends and families. Nicole decides to be a supportive wife and gives up her career. However, living as an overly ambitious executive’s wife in suburbia is tougher than she imagined.
The writing is tight, the pacing fast, even though there’s not a lot of action as would be expected with this genre. Nicole struggles when she is relegated by Josh’s obsessive work ethic to the second most important thing in his life. These challenges are reflective, I think, of many real world situations. She is tempted by Josh’s handsome boss, more because he pays attention to her than because of his looks. Although he is pretty dishy. :)
Much of the story is spent inside Nicole’s head as the author examines the conflict between her duty and obligations as a wife, and her yearning for attention and love. I thought the author handled this well, although I wouldn’t have complained if there’d been a bit more depth to the characters. I did feel I was told a lot of how they felt, and there was plenty of room for showing their conflicts. The outcome was realistic rather than a happily-ever-after fairy-tale (as would be expected in a romance).
I’ve read a few novels in the genre, and I do struggle somewhat with the incessant circling thoughts that flood the female lead’s mind. I couldn’t remain sane if I was bombarded with that much self-doubt. That’s not a criticism. It’s expected in Women’s Fiction, and it’s natural that I struggle to empathize fully. To paraphrase Tammy Wynette, “After all I’m just a man.”
Too few to mention.
Rating: **** Four stars