Joint Review – In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman

In Want of a Wife cover image

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: 6 May
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Jane Middlebourne needs a way out. In 1891, life in New York is unforgiving for a young woman with no prospects, especially when her family wants nothing to do with her. So when Jane discovers an ad for a mail-order bride needed in Bitter Springs, Wyoming, she responds with a hopeful heart.

Rancher Morgan Longstreet is in want of a wife who will be his partner at Morning Star, someone who will work beside him and stand by him. His first impression of the fair and fragile Jane is that she is not that woman. But when she sets out to prove him wrong, the secrets he cannot share put into jeopardy every
happiness they hope to find.

This blurb came from the author’s website.

E: Ever since a couple of my fellow Book Pushers – Has and Lou – pushed Goodman’s Never Love a Lawman on me I have been hooked on her writing. As a result I was really excited to hear she had a new story coming out. I really enjoy the Reidsville area and vivid characters so when I started reading In Want of a Wife, and saw some familiar names I did a little happy wiggle then settled in to enjoy the magic of Goodman’s writing.

Has: I am really glad you succumbed to our bookpushing, because she is a fantastic writer and I heartily enjoyed a lot of her historicals in the past. But I do agree with you that this book had that classic touch of Jo Goodman’s hallmarks of great characterisation, witty dialogue and a multi-layered story. It was definitely a highlight for me because I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed In Want of a Wife. I loved the premise of a mail order bride trope the twists with Jane and Morgan who wanted to forge new lives and escape their past.

E: While Goodman is known for complex characters who tend to move or live out West because of secrets from their past I thought she really outdid herself with Jane and Morgan. I thought Jane’s introduction and the slow unfolding of her story as she settled in with Morgan was wonderfully done. I enjoyed finding out the REASONS behind her actions which really helped me continue to understand her reactions to Morgan, his hands, the townsfolk, and how she responded when under pressure.

Has: I agree! I loved their first meeting at the train station when Morgan realises Jane was not the woman he initially expected, it was funny and witty. I loved their exchanges of dialogue which made me smile and Jo Goodman is really deft with setting up witty scenes that just sucks you in. I really enjoyed Morgan’s reaction to Jane who holds her own I loved that she constantly surprised him by not living up to his own preset of prejudices because of her background. I also loved that Jane also developed as a character by slowing trusting and and opening up to Morgan especially about her past which becomes a catalyst in cementing their relationship in the book. The slow burn of the romance, really enhanced their relationship and it was fantastic to see these reserved and quiet characters grow from strangers to intimate lovers who have each others backs. I found that this book was much more quieter in tone especially with the romance compared to previous Jo Goodman’s books but it was no less intense.

E: Morgan! Loved him, his secrets, his past, his taciturn nature that hid a great sense of humor, his respect towards his elders, how he didn’t quite know how to interact with Jane, so many things. Like my experience with Jane, I enjoyed seeing what made Morgan tick. I really felt for him as some of his back-story emerged and I loved how he was able turn his life around. Without going into spoilers I really enjoyed how he figured out a way to handle some of his problems but still had to have faith in Jane and her ability to deal with pressure.

Has: Morgan was just fantastic! I loved his dry sense of humour and Jane appreciating it as well as seeing his true self. They both played off each other perfectly and I loved that he wasn’t the usual tall dark or blond rugged rancher but was a true red-head and that also added to the humour with certain scenes in the book which made me laugh. I also liked how Morgan and Jane slowly unveiled their past history which help to instigate their desire to find a new start. Jo Goodman really did a fabulous job in setting up and exploring their issues which was harsh and ugly for them both.

E: An additional aspect that I enjoyed with this story was the various relationships and interactions. I had several fits of laughter over the actions of the rascally boys, the town busybody, the inquisitive sheriff (hero of Never Love a Lawman), and a few other town inhabitants as they tried to bring Jane and Morgan into the town social structure. I also found that as much as I enjoyed Jane and Morgan individually I also really loved how their relationship grew and changed. They went from each feeling somewhat mislead to deciding to give it a try to becoming partners and falling in love along the way. I think this particular scene about halfway in really demonstrated just how far Jane and Morgan had come in their relationship.

“Take your time, Jane. I’m going to turn back the lamp in the front room, make sure there’s enough coal in the firebox to keep the chill out tonight, and wash up in the kitchen. That’ll give you enough time to work up a worry or two.”

“Perhaps I will just read,” she said primly.

“You could do that.” He started to leave, stopped, and turned to face her again. He cocked an eyebrow at her, gave her a considering look. “Or you could think about where I am going to kiss you first. And here’s a hint: It’s not going to be on your mount.” He grinned and ducked out of the room. He had already turned the corner when one of the bed pillows sailed through the doorway.

Has: That scene really sums that up! *Sigh* I so agree with you about the other cast of characters, especially the two rascal boys, Finn and Rabbit which added another layer of humour. Every-time they appeared on page, I ended up smiling or laughing over what they said or their interactions with other characters. I also loved the scenes when they both trusted and confided each other with their past secrets were so well done and fleshed out especially the scenes involving Jane which were poignant and heart-breaking. Although without going into much spoilers and detail I did wish there was a certain aspect to Morgan’s past was developed further because I felt that was glossed over and it wasn’t mentioned much later in the book especially since it took a huge toll on him emotionally and psychologically about how that affected him. Nonetheless I really appreciated the fact, that this book did not have any overwrought angst or drama and while the characters had made past mistakes which haunted them, they continued to learn and evolve.

E: I think In Want of a Wife ended up being my favorite of Goodman’s books that I have read to date. I thought the slow growth of the primary relationship along with the gradual evidence of trust was very fun to watch. I was completely sucked into their lives and found myself cheering with each step towards togetherness. I was also very anxious to find out how the past was going to be resolved as tension continued to build. I loved that it took both Jane and Morgan to close things out. Goodman’s westerns are firmly on my autobuy and reread list. I can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.

I give In Want of a Wife an A

Has: In Want of a Wife was a fabulous read. I know I have enjoyed and loved a few Jo Goodman’s books in the past, but I have to say this was a firm favourite for me. While the tone and even the pace was slow with the development of the romance, it really just emphasize how good the romance was. I loved the scenes when they slowly unfold their secret and the witty dialogue and humour helps to balance out the darker aspects of the book which does cover stark issues. But I loved the romance between Jane and Morgan, and the snappy and sharp dialogue, the slow burn romance which made the emotional elements feel more intense was superb. I am definitely on board to read the next story set in the town of Bitter Springs and its cast of great characters!

I give In Want of a Wife an A-

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4 thoughts on “Joint Review – In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman”

  1. I loved reading her historicals as a teenager, and I do have a stack of them on my shelves, but it has been over a decade since I last read one of her books. I have to remedy that, I do love the mail order bride trope so much. Jude Deveraux has a great one as well.

  2. @aurian: WOW! I don’t know how I didn’t manage to discover her earlier because I used to read historicals like there was no tomorrow. Which Jude Deveraux was it?

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