I’m a SuperWendy TBR challenge cheat. Not only am I posting about a book that, though I have reread it many times, I did not reread it this month, it is also a book that is 9 years old (published 2006) so it does not meet the “10 years and older” criterion for this month. But I am all for breaking reading rules so consider this my teen blogging rebellion.
I wrote most of this post last year but it has been sitting in my drafts waiting patiently. I recommended Lynne Graham’s The Greek’s Chosen Wife to Miss Bates Reads Romance and she slayed Romancelandia with her awesome review that has made us all judge heroines by the tilt of their chin ever since. How do I compete with a chin winning review? I don’t. First of all, my review was written months before Miss B wrote hers – I just had not found the right time to post it. Secondly, mine is more rambling thoughts than a structured review and thirdly, Miss B focused on aspects of the book that I did not address. So here is the warning: between my review and Miss B’s you have the whole story. It becomes way too spoilerish:
It’s been eight years since Prudence’s arranged wedding to Nikolas Angelis. Their relationship was never consummated and they have always lived apart.
But now Prudence longs to have her own baby and she wants a divorce. However, Nik is horrified — he is her husband and he will be the father of her child!
Prudence reluctantly agrees to a trial marriage with Nik. But conceiving his baby? That’s not a risk she’s willing to take…
I adore The Greek’s Chosen Wife. Prudence is one of my favourite of Lynne Graham’s heroines. This story is about 2 very young adults (19 and 22) being forced into marriage by their families. Nik because his father’s gambling has bankrupted his family and Prudence because her grandfather will not assist her in supporting her alcoholic mother unless she does as he asks. This is a marriage that neither of them wanted. For Prudence, it was bad enough having a secret crush on Nik but husband on a trophy from pappou is not her way. However, Nik is not aware that Prudence was being coerced. Prudence is not slim and willowy and is actually nicknamed Pudding. At their wedding, Nik gets completely drunk and to Prudence’s horror he passes out. She is so deeply ashamed that her groom couldn’t bear being married to her that she can’t stop crying. Nik comes to in the morning and has zero memory of his wedding night but sees an inconsolable Prudence who refuses to discuss what had happened on the night. Nik spends years horrified with himself, horrified thinking he had hurt her in his drunkedness and anger at being forced to marry her “Had he sunk low enough to take his angry sense of injustice out on her in bed?” His apprehension never leaves him, he is terrified that he had raped her so he keeps his distance and though they don’t live together, they have to stay married due to the debts they owe her despotic grandfather. In all this Nik is gentle in all his dealings with Prudence and tries hard to buy her presents that she will like such as floral wellington boots.
This was not a real marriage. Not in Prudence’s eyes nor Nik’s. Nik continued being the party boy (and having numerous lovers) for a few more years – as a young man in his early 20s is wont to do. He married for money not for love. I was somewhat saddened that Prudence was not a party girl but she did have her own agenda apart from taking care of her ailing mother. I don’t really have an issue with infidelity in romance fiction. I know that there are many readers who see this as a no-go unforgivable zone but I just see it as part of someone’s love narrative (despite it causing pain to those around them – romance novels are about the central couple’s HEA and not their secondary characters). I happily look past a Nik’s infidelity. It sits well in the narrative of his story with Pudding. Chapter 1 actually opens with Nik vacating one of his lover’s beds to go to see Pudding on her birthday.
Nik and Prudence have an 8 year non-marriage but have forged a close friendship. Nik does have mistresses but they all know about his peculiar marriage. Nik visits Prudence for her birthday and finally discovers that he did not rape her, he never harmed her and this is a turning point for him. He now feels free to pursue his wife as she does (and always has) appealed to him. However, Prudence wants a divorce and though she sleeps with him that one time, she doesn’t trust him. But when he realises that his wife wants a divorce because she wants a child (through surrogancy) he coerces her to stay. And here is where the ultimate communication breaks down. Nik truly believes that Prudence married him because she loved him. He did not realise that she too had been coerced. That little part of him that was bitter to be forced into marriage at a young age had been assuaged by the egotistical feeling that at least Prudence had loved him. When he finally finds out that she too had been blackmailed, and that he had further been complicit in coercing her (he kept saying “I’m fighting for our marriage” thinking he could finally love her back since he hadn’t raped her). He even says “Had I known that you were blackmailed I would have let you go”. Nik feels guilt about his behaviour earlier in their marriage and there is a rather awkward party scene where Prudence is talking to 3 of Nik’s ex-lovers. Nik panics that she is in this position but despite initial feelings of inferiority, she comes to the realisation that they were in the weaker position because Nik was pursuing her, he wanted her despite having access to these “perfect” model women. This gives her strength in demanding her needs. Nik eventually recognises that he had needed to grow up, he was much to young to understand the position both of them had been in when they were first married.
There is so much to discuss in this story. Love, infidelity, power over youth, rape, and, as with all of Lynne Graham’s stories, there is the underlying idea of how we come to belong in a family with love. Ultimately, this story is just lovely. It is about how Nik and Prudence, two young adults who genuinely liked each other, have to allow time and maturity to be able to negotiate past the manipulation of their families so that they can finally come to love each other.
This book is full of misunderstandings, and sadness. Sadness for two young people who should never have been forced to marry one another.
I bought my copy of Lynne Graham’s The Greek’s Chosen Wife when it was first released in 2006. It lives on my keeper shelves.