The Elusive Wife

Callie Hutton
The Elusive Wife
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Entangled Publishing
Release Date
May 2013
Historical Romance

Jason Cavendish, the Earl of Coventry, is trying to discreetly locate his unwanted and abandoned bride among London society to request an annulment. However, he doesn't remember what she looks like because he was blind drunk at his arranged wedding and hasn't seen her since.

The fascinating Lady Olivia has captured the Earl's attention. Newly arrived from the country to stay with her school friend for the Season, she is appalled to discover that her husband, Lord Coventry, doesn't even recognize her. She's not about to tell the arrogant arse that she is his wife. Instead, she flirts with him by night and has her modiste send her mounting bills to him by day.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… Too bad this woman finds her husband nearly irresistible.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jul 05, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
83 people found the following review helpful
Fun, engaging and wonderfully detailed, Callie Hutton's new historic novel features a wonderfully resourceful heroine and an earl with quite a bit to learn about being a hero. Though I had issues with some of its elements, the entertaining premise of the story and the clever, thoughtful way the plot unfolds makes for an engaging read that fans of light historic romances will love.

Jason Cavendish is chagrined enough when he inherited the title of Earl of Coventry upon his father's death. Even worse, though, is the marriage his late father arranged for Jason—a marriage that must be honored if he is to inherit a single penny of his father's fortune. Furious at his situation and highly dubious that this mystery woman could be any kind of suitable wife, Jason arrives at his wedding thoroughly drunk, and as a result, can't remember a thing about the event, or the woman who is now his wife. Eager to forget his new wife, Jason flees to his life and friends in London. But when he spots an entrancing beauty across a crowded ballroom floor, he realizes he has to deal with his meddlesome marriage in order to devote himself to this mysterious stranger.

Lady Olivia has spent most of her life living in seclusion with her academic father. Thus, she is thoroughly unprepared for marriage, or for a man like Jason. When he leaves right after their wedding without speaking a word to her, Olivia decides to take a trip to London to visit a school friend with the hope of alleviating her boredom. But when Jason begins flirting with her at a ball, not realizing they are already husband and wife, Olivia realizes that she has to take matters into her own hands. She sends Jason the bills for her dresses by day, and tempts him by night, but will she ever get the marriage and the husband she truly desires?

Both Olivia and Jason are very well-drawn characters with individuality and spirit. Though the circumstances that bring them together are beyond their control, it's fascinating to see the way they fit together and complement each other as they gradually come to know each other. I was suitably impressed by Olivia, who refused to be cowed by all the changes and heartache she was forced to face and rectify nearly by herself, and the way she learns to navigate both the dizzying world of London society and her unexpected marriage. Even when she seemed most helpless, she was never a weak character.

I genuinely appreciate the way Callie Hutton highlighted the dual standard upheld by society, and how restricted women like Olivia were, especially compared to men like Jason. It was great to see her turn the tables, both on her absent husband and the Ton's expectations. That having been said, having so many unfair aspects of their world pointed out, it was difficult for me to see past Jason's actions to the man himself. I certainly thought him worthy of reconciliation and a happy ending, and liked the fact that he was not an out-and-out scoundrel, but I found it much harder to see past his weak behavior than Olivia did. I was pleased to see how he developed over the course of the story, though, and while I wished Olivia's role could have been a bit more active, it was great to see Jason take the opportunity to become the hero his wife needed.

The historic elements and sensory details of each scene make the story come to life, and certainly helps immerse the reader in the world that Olivia and Jason share. It was a world I genuinely enjoyed visiting and the characters who populated it were complex, unique and thoroughly engaging. I particularly loved Olivia's school friend and her husband, and the brief peek into their own heartfelt marriage. The addition of a greedy villain and a dark plot made for a well-rounded story that developed even past Olivia and Jason knew each other for who they truly were.

I found this an entertaining and thought-provoking book, and I'm certainly looking forward to reading more of Callie Hutton in the near future.
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