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The Improper Wife    by Diane Perkins order for
Improper Wife
by Diane Perkins
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Still reeling under the shock of losing his young wife in a most gruesome manner and dogged by his own war wounds, the last thing Captain John Grayson expects during his temporary recuperative stay in London is to find a pregnant woman on his doorstep, claiming to be married to him. Although he helps her, John returns to the front believing the woman was trying to con him. His worst suspicions are confirmed when he returns a few years later to find the same woman and her son cozily ensconced in his ancestral home, being treated as his wife and heir.

When Maggie Delaney realizes the cad she married had for some unknown and underhanded reason married her under Grayson's name, she's crushed. Desperate for her newborn's well being and running from a dark secret in her past, Maggie lets John's kind cousins assume she's his legal wife. But with John's arrival everything changes. A fiery attraction sizzles into life even as the two of them struggle to resolve the gulf of deceit between them. Just as it looks like a happy ending might be in sight for their tumultuous relationship, secrets from the past rear their ugly heads.

Diane Perkins weaves an entertaining saga of romance and misunderstanding in The Improper Wife. John and Maggie have more than their share of pathos and pain to deal with. The fact that they're both strong characters who find it difficult to lean on others adds fuel to an already volatile relationship. Deception and secrets inject plenty of suspense and there is confusion galore as Maggie and John try to resolve their differences and sort out their out-of-control attraction.

Side characters such as John's meddlesome cousins and his crotchety father add to the general mayhem. Perkins is equally adept at recreating a battlefront scene as at depicting its aftereffects on the general populace - the historical ambience of the story adds to its effectiveness. In short, an unusual plot with in-depth characterizations and a believable romance make this a perfect read.

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