Review: Stand-In Wife by Karina Bliss

Posted September 29, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Holly‘s review of Stand-In Wife by Karina Bliss

Playing with dynamite, a girl could get burned…

What does he know about love and marriage? And exactly how did he, Ross Coltrane—a special forces elite soldier and demolitions expert—end up playing middleman to his kid brother and the estranged wif And most important, why is he suddenly noticing how beautiful his sister–in–law is? He’s never thought about his brother’s wife…that way…before.

Then he figures it out and everything makes sense. This tantalizing woman is the other twin! The identical sisters have pulled a swap and duped everyone around them. Furious much? Oh, yeah. Poised to bring down their plan, Ross hesitates. Something about Vivienne Jansen’s courage and zest for life gets to him. Except, he’s not a man who has feelings. Everyone calls him the Iceman. He doesn’t know how to be anything else…

Buying into the plot of this book took a major suspension of disbelief. Vivienne Jansen comes home from New York to check on her twin sister, whose marriage has fallen apart. Meredith has sounded increasingly depressed and Viv is worried about her. She convinces Merry she needs a change and talks her into going to an interview at a new hospital, an hour away, thinking that Merry getting away from her soon-to-be-ex and his new flame will be good for her.

Unfortunately Merry breaks her leg while there. Viv goes to pick up the kids from her mother-in-law’s house and runs into her brother-in-law (Merry’s husband’s brother), Ross Coltrane. Viv had a thing for him 8 years ago and it hasn’t fully gone away. Except Ross mistakes Viv for Merry and throws a lot of accusations at her regarding her marriage. Viv gets defensive and doesn’t bother correcting him. Then the mother-in-law falls from a stool and dies, with only Viv as witness. She rushes out and grabs Ross and together they try to revive her.

Now Ross thinks Viv is Merry and Viv goes along with it because Ross threatened her sister’s custody arrangement. Viv has to fool her sister’s husband, kids and the rest of the family. Not to mention juggle two kids and all the household chores – something she’s never had to deal with before. In the midst of this her attraction to Ross is reawakened, she’s asked to help plan the mother-in-law’s funeral and her sister’s husband tries to work on a reconciliation..with the wrong sister.

While this plot could have easily moved into “hot mess” territory, Bliss managed to keep it all straight and make it work. Is it likely this scenario would happen? Probably not. But Bliss sold it to me in a way that made it work despite my disbelief.

Ross is dealing with a lot of built up anger over his last mission where two of his team members in the SAS were killed and he was dragged to safety by a third. His one goal is to get back to 100% physical condition so he can be deployed again. He doesn’t have time to deal with his half-brother’s almost-ex, or the kids, or any the funeral of his step-mother. Then he realizes he isn’t dealing with his brother’s wife, but her irresponsible twin sister. Which does, admittedly, make him feel better about the attraction he’s been feeling toward her. Or it would, if he could get past his anger at being deceived.

Viv is tired of feeling like a failure next to her perfect twin. Stepping into her life doesn’t make her feelings of inadequacy any better, either. I liked Viv’s zest for life and the way she tried to see the good in every situation. She was way outside her comfort zone, but she did her best to make it work. I wish she would have stood up for herself sooner and not let herself be so taken advantage of. I do like that she didn’t let anyone else get away with anything (ie Ross or her sister’s husband).

The romance worked because both Ross and Viv worked on their personal issues throughout the book. This wasn’t just a love story, it was also a personal journey for them.

I really loved the family ties of this book. The strong relationships stood out and brought the convoluted plot together.

3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Harlequin Superromance. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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2 responses to “Review: Stand-In Wife by Karina Bliss

  1. WOW.
    I don’t know if I would be able to suspend disbelief as easily as you did, despite what I expect to be excellent writing.

    However, reading your review of this book, I was immediately brought to mind of an ’80 glitz book that I read as a teen and used to love, but the title and author escapes me now where twin sisters switch identities (one is a housewife the other an antiques dealer) and the housewife dies and the other twin assumes her sisters identity and husband. Husband finds out and they eventually fall in love and get ‘secretly’ married.

  2. I think that would creep me out a little. I mean, it’s one thing for the twins to swap places if everyone realizes what happened in the end. But for her to assume the other one’s name? Yikes.

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