Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: The Manning Brides

The Manning Brides coverTitle: The Manning Brides (Marriage of Inconvenience & Stand-In Wife)
Author: Debbie Macomber
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Pub Date: Originally 1992, this edition 2008, MIRA
Mass market, 475 pages


Rich Manning and Jamie Warren have always been friends--and nothing but friends. However, that changes when she asks him to father the child she so desperately wants. Rich agrees--if she'll marry him. Because he thinks their Marriage of Inconvenience could become a real marriage instead.

Paul Manning, a grieving widower with three small children, turns to Leah Baker for help and comfort. When that comfort begins to grow into something else, Paul discovers that he wants more than a Stand-In Wife.

My Thoughts

I had never read a Debbie Macomber novel before this set of books, which I happened across our local independent bookstore several weeks ago. I decided I wanted to start a light read last night and, well, that's pretty much exactly what I got and so I'm writing just one review for both stories. I've read a few romance novels, and I actually have to say I appreciate the fact that Macomber does not go into graphic detail when it comes to sex, though there are certainly enough innuendos.

In the end, I have wonder if I'm just not a good candidate for romance novels--at least not those that are like these two books. The story lines just felt so unrealistic and ridiculous--especially the way the couples were acting. I found myself rolling my eyes often, and I'm not sure that I have ever been more frustrated with characters than I was when it came to Rich & Jamie and Paul & Leah. How they could not have a clue as to what the other person was feeling, not know what they themselves were feeling and ultimately say some absolutely stupid things to each other was beyond me. Maybe I just can't relate, but I just can't envision real people acting like these silly couples. The timing of the development of the relationships also felt odd--things happened much too quickly and, to me, the various family members did not react to certain events the way I think most people would. Actually, I felt that both stories--but especially Stand-In Wife--focused so much on the couples and hardly at all on other characters (friends & family) that the stories just felt even less real.

I realize that romance novels are very much an escapist read, but I need more substance to really appreciate a story like either of these and to truly "escape." Macomber's writing is easy to read and follow, and I could at least enjoy the fact that the books both ended "happily ever after." But I think that lately I've been reading so many books that are deeper, more emotionally gripping, and better written, and I was simply unable to appreciate this title in the manner it had been intended.

My rating:
2 stars

If you have read and reviewed this book, please leave a comment with the link!


  1. OMGoodness, you did do a Debbie Macomber......you will love the Cedar Cove series, I promise!

  2. At least I won't go about picking this one up! Thanks to u :)

  3. I really enjoyed The Blossom Street one I read, but that wasn't full of romance. I have heard great things about the Blossom street set and the Cedar Coves ones. I like an easy read occasionally in between all the heavier books.

  4. I have never read a Macomber book. I'm afraid that my reaction would be like yours.

  5. Too bad this wasn't a great book for you. But I always look at the bright side. At least we know more about what we do like from learning what we do not like, right?

    Also, I tagged you for The State of Mt. TBR meme. :)

  6. When I read a romance, I have less trouble suspending my disbelief if it is set in times gone by. It is more difficult for me to accept sweeter-than-sweet characters in a contemporary setting.

  7. I haven't read much romance lit myself, but I do enjoy skimming the pulp ones especially, because they can be highly amusing. On the other hand, there are some that are very well done. I don't despise the genre, unlike many guys.

    In a lighter vein, I have a friend who pretty much does despise the genre and he is in the middle of writing a romance novel spoof, called "Scruffy Love." What I've read of it is absolutely hilarious.

  8. ShaRhonda & Scrap Girl ~ Thanks for the other rec's. Maybe I won't give up on her yet.

    Veens & Beth F ~ I guess everyone reacts differently, but I couldn't help but feel that these to stories were not worth my time.

    Rebecca ~ You're absolutely right! Thanks for the tag, I will save mine for next Wednesday as I couldn't get to it yesterday :-)

    Jack W. Regan ~ Wow, I'm impressed!! :-) I'm also going to have to keep an eye out for Scruffy Love, too--it sounds like it would be a fun read.


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