The First Wife
I first started reading romantic suspense in my junior high years, falling in love with the genre through authors such as Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart. Something about this book really reminded me of those stories of long ago.
The prologue takes place in the middle of our narrative. Bailey is in the hospital, suffering from a traumatic brain injury. She can’t remember what happened before she was injured but she does know one thing – something about her husband Logan has her very nervous.
Chapter one takes us back to the beginning of the tale. Bailey Brown is celebrating her mother’s life by taking a vacation in Grand Cayman when she is rescued from an attacker by Logan Abbott. They spend eight straight hours together afterwards, getting to know each other. Then extend their vacations so they can continue to get to know each other. Unwilling to part when the holiday is coming to an end, they have a whirlwind wedding and Bailey moves from Nebraska to Logan’s ranch in Wholesome, Louisiana.
There is tension almost right away. It is clear that Logan’s sister doesn’t welcome Bailey with open arms. Several of the senior ranch workers mention how much Bailey is like Logan’s first wife. A police officer pulls Bailey over and tells her to watch her back – he is convinced Logan is a killer of women and that Bailey might very well be next on his list. A look at the Abbot family history shows a recent and breathtaking string of violence. Bailey soon starts to wonder just how much trouble her whirlwind romance has landed her in.
The suspense story line is intriguing. I can’t remember how often I’ve read this plot before but the idea of the mysterious first wife and the possibility of violence surrounding her are at least as old as the novel Rebecca. This book doesn’t capture the eerie, atmospheric thrills of that one but it does do a good job of showing us a woman who is battling with her common sense while following her heart. Bailey loves Logan, but for her the big question is has love made her completely blind to who he truly is? That’s a chilling thought and the author does a good job with that aspect of the tale.
I did however struggle a bit with the premise. It makes sense in terms of the story line that Bailey would marry Logan, thus giving her access to everything in his life. But it doesn’t make sense in terms of the character. I couldn’t fathom why she didn’t just move to the town before committing. That factor didn’t jive with Bailey’s personality. For the most part she is practical and levelheaded. A move to the town he lived in might have worked but for her to throw caution to the wind and marry didn’t seem to mix with what we get to know about her.
I also didn’t feel that Logan was charming or winsome enough to keep you trusting him in the face of the evidence. He lied and withheld information far too often to seem trustworthy. And he was defensive when questioned about his lying, which made it worse in my mind.
Yet in spite of those quibbles, the story worked. Part of that was definitely the nostalgia factor. I like this plot and while this wasn’t brilliantly executed it was certainly well done enough to satisfy me. Another positive factor is that this is all very familiar ground to those who are married. No, most of us don’t worry that our husband is a serial killer. But there does come a time in every marriage when you discover something about your spouse that completely surprises you and causes you to wonder what else you don’t know. Spindler uses that aspect of marriage to strong affect in this book.
If you’re looking for a suspense novel that contains romance, a hint of danger and an intriguing who done it, look no further. This one has some flaws but it definitely bears reading in spite of them.