Earlier this year I read Maggie Osbourne’s I Do, I Do, I Do, which was so good it gave me a taste for bigamy plots. While I didn’t enjoy Our Husband quite as much, it’s a good read, reminiscent of books by two of my favorite writers: Olivia Goldsmith and Susan Issacs.
Travelling salesman Raymond Carmichael successfully juggled three wives – Natalie, Beatrix, and Ruby – until the day of his heart attack. With that lifestyle it’s no wonder he had one! His wives arrive in the ER and the truth comes out. Raymond dies soon after and the wives try to go about burying him, settling his affairs and getting the hell out of each others’ lives. Then the autopsy reveals Raymond’s death to be a result of foul play, and the ladies are all suspect.
The three wives, who fit easily into stereotypes, have enough pathos to make you care about them. Beatrix, the socialite, comes across as a tough as nails snob, but she’s also a lonely compulsive shopper. Ruby, the stripper, is a bubblehead who strives to better herself by memorizing facts learned from Jeopardy. I was glad that she didn’t suffer from “stripper guilt;” for her it was just a job. Natalie, the saintly long-suffering doctor, is the least interesting of the trio, but her post-Raymond romance gives her zing. As in I Do, I Do, I Do, it’s great fun to witness these personalities clash and satisfying to see what these distinct women learn from each other.
The women in this story go through hell. Not only do they have to deal with Raymond’s cheatin’ heart; he also played fast and loose with their money. And then there is the possibility that one of them could end up in prison. It could be a real downer, but Stephanie Bond balances convincing portrayals of the characters pain with spicy one liners.
Our Husband does not fit the standard “romance” mold; indeed, this also-series author jumps into the wild world of mainstream fiction/women’s fiction with this book. The emphasis is on the bonding of the three wives. As I mentioned before, there is also a nice romance between Natalie and Brian, who is the pawnbroker who takes her jewelry as payment for Raymond’s debt. The weakest part of the story was the mystery surrounding Ray’s murder, which starts out with great promise but finishes in a strictly Scooby Doo fashion. But if you enjoy the other elements of the story, as I did, it won’t spoil your good time.
If all books about multiple marriage were as good as this one, I would have no need to read any other kind of book. I look forward to Stephanie Bond’s next effort. I’d like her to do a more conventionally “romantic story” next time, but if she should continue to explore dysfunction, that’s fine too – she’s funnier than Jerry Springer.