Published by Self-Published on 19th July 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Cults, Issues, Romance
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
Lipstick. Bright, red lipstick. Nothing but lipstick.
Even though it’s against our faith to wear a color that screams of sexual promiscuity and deviant behavior, I’m not allowed to protest.
But, I want to.
You see, there’s more to me than the braid that spills down my back.
More to me than the layers of heavy fabric that maintain my modesty.
And so much more than the oppressive wedding band that adorns my finger--the same band that each of my sister wives wear.
So much more.
To protest would be sinful.
I must keep sweet, that is my duty.
So I’ll wear the lipstick. I’ll do as I’m told.
And I’ll do my best to silence the resistance within me, to push him from my mind.
If only my heart would do the same.
We were all really excited for this book, so we were thrilled when three of us were given the chance to read an ARC of Wife Number Seven! Read on for our thoughts…
Reviewed by Shannon
When I first heard that Melissa was writing a book about polygamy I was surprised. I mean it definitely wasn’t like her other books. Needless to say, I was completely intrigued and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. When I finally did, I read almost the entire first half in one sitting. I could not put it down! The fact that Brinley already had doubts and rebelled from the beginning was intriguing and kept me on the edge of my seat. In fact, the whole book kept me reading faster to find out what happened next. Reading about this world and how Brinley interacted with her husband and sister wives was fascinating. I’ve never read a book about polygamy before so I was very interested in this world. The whole suspense of Brinley’s secrets and if she would get exposed was definitely my favorite part of the book.
However, as much as I loved Brinley and her secrets, I was not a fan of Porter, the love interest. First of all, Porter was a drug addict and that was strike one for me. I also didn’t like how fast the relationship progressed. I mean Brinley was living on the compound and having to sneak around to see him. I’m just not a fan of relationships built on lies and deception even if it’s true love. She was seriously making me nervous with all the risks she took and meeting Porter only amplified that. I just couldn’t get on board with Porter. I’m all for flawed heroes but he just wasn’t my cup of tea and neither was their relationship. It also didn’t help that I enjoyed the other aspects of the story much more than their relationship. And I know Brinley already had her doubts about the compound from the beginning but Porter was a big catalyst that got those doubts moving more and I guess I kind of wished it was something else even though it made sense.
With that said, this is still a great book that I would recommend. I definitely had strong feelings about it, mostly good, some bad. And after I was finished I had to just sit and think about it. I mean that ending was killer! Wowza! I can’t wait to see if or when Melissa gives us more of this world. Love it!
Reviewed by Joanne
A voice inside told me I didn’t belong here, that there was another life waiting for me. And with each passing year, that voice became louder.
I am still thinking of this book days after finishing it – Brinley’s story has really got under my skin. It’s so different to other books by Melissa Brown, and even though I loved Picturing Perfect and Unwanted Stars, Wife Number Seven is in a class of its own. It was mesmerising, heart breaking, and had me biting my nails on more than one occasion. It’s also a really beautiful story of a young woman finding herself and rising above the oppressive society she has grown up in.
Brinley lives in a Mormon compound that is strictly religious and adheres to the polygamous lifestyle. She is the seventh wife of Lehi Cluff, and also the youngest. She also happens to be the only wife yet to bear him a child. Brinley is different, she feels there must be more to life than the one she is living at the moment. She’s like a caged bird, just waiting for the moment she will be able to fly away, but she’s also too afraid to rock the boat. So she does as she is told, making do with her frequent trips into town to get supplies for the Cluff Household. It’s on one of these trips to town when Brinley meets Porter, a man who was exiled from the community because of his rebellious behaviour, and that turns out to be the one meeting that changes Brinley’s life forever.
There were so many twists and turns in this story, I was never sure who Brin could trust. There were her other sister wives, in particular Aspen and Rebecca, and then there was also Jorjina, The prophet’s mother. They were the only ones that Brin felt remotely close to, but she still needed to be on guard and watch what she said so most of the time she just had to smile and ‘keep sweet.’
I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book, worrying about Brin getting caught, and if she did what would the consequences be? I could not read this story fast enough, and now that I’ve finished, I want to read it again. Easily one of my favourite books this year.
Reviewed by Kelly
I have read/listened to two other Melissa Brown books. Listening to Picturing Perfect was a godsend whilst I was wrapping up Christmas presents last year, and then earlier this year I read Bouquet Toss while on holiday with my family. They were both fairly light, easy read romances. Wife Number Seven was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and I LOVED IT!
I knew from reading the blurb that there was en edge to this book, it was something different and it definitely hinted at a taboo subject. I was intrigued. When I finally got the ARC – Joanne had it in her inbox for TWO WEEKS and forgot to send it to Shannon and I!! – and had it safely on my iPad I read it in less than 24 hours. That’s unheard of for me, I never normally have time to read that fast. With Wife Number Seven I didn’t have a choice – I NEEDED to keep reading, I NEEDED to find out more. It was seriously an edge-of-your-seat kind of story!
I loved how strong Brinley was. I loved that she questioned things. I loved that although she was expected to “keep sweet” she didn’t just follow along with what was expected of her, at least not on the inside, the things she did when she went in to town were a perfect example of this. I felt desperately sorry for her situation. Not only was she was stuck in a loveless marriage but she was one of eight women sharing the same man. I just could not comprehend that. I think the fact that this story is based on fact made it all the crazier to read about the things that Brinley went through.
I didn’t like Porter at the start of the story. I didn’t get Brinley’s attraction to him or why he was suddenly consuming her every thought. He had serious issues. I don’t think I would have been able to get past those issues and that stopped me from connecting with their relationship to start with. It was hard to read about how he came to leave the compound and how he was forced to make his own way on the outside – that’s when I warmed up to him. It was just so sad that he could be treated the way he was.
I was a nervous wreck the more I read of Wife Number Seven. Brinley’s actions and the risks she took had me biting my nails! The ending was explosive and hard to read but it made me love Aspen, one of the sister wives, even more than I already did. Now I want Aspen’s story. And if it’s not too greedy can I have one for Rebecca too please, Melissa?!
“Wait.” Porter hopped up from the couch and ran in front of me, closing the door. He turned, forcing me against the wall of the hallway. Then he placed his hands on the wall on either side of me, and stood much too close to me.
My heart thumped inside my chest and sweat formed on the back of my neck. He was trapping me. How could I have been so stupid? Why did I come here? What did I expect to happen?
Porter tilted his head, narrowing his eyes as he asked, “Why are you really here?”
“I-I already t-told you.” I clenched my eyes tightly, scolding myself for stumbling on my words.
“No, that’s not why. Tell me the truth.” He leaned in closer, whispering into my ear, “It’s okay, you can say it.”
Slowly, he inched closer. I felt like his prey as he backed me into the wall, one arm above each of my shoulders. With my back pressed against the wall and his breath on the sensitive skin of my neck, my anxiety ramped up and the area between my legs began to throb.
“Say what?” I whispered, finally allowing my gaze to meet his. His eyes had darkened, become intense, and focused on me as if everything else in the world had ceased to exist. No one had ever looked at me like that.
He sees me.
Really sees me.
What on earth have I gotten myself into?
“You’ve been thinking about me, haven’t you?” he asked, his voice low. He lifted one hand from the wall and tucked a stray piece of hair behind my ear.
I shook my head.
“You’re lying,” he insisted. “I know it.”
Again, I shook my head from side to side, closing my eyes tightly, resisting the urge to place my lips on his, just like I had in my dreams.
“I’ve been thinking about you,” he said softly. “I don’t want to, but I can’t stop. Ever since you came here that day, I can’t get you out of my fucking head.”
I flinched. That awful word made my shoulders tense. But my heart fluttered at the idea of Porter thinking of me, wanting me, dreaming of me like I dreamed of him. I said nothing, but met his stare with my own.
“Tell me something,” he whispered when I didn’t respond to his confession. “Do you love him?”
Again, this wholly inappropriate question. Only this time, I wanted to answer. I wanted to scream it through the apartment. I wanted him to know that Lehi Cluff could never own my heart.
When I didn’t answer, he moved in closer, so close I could feel the thumping of his heart against mine. I shook my head in answer to his question, and he sighed.
“I see.” He nuzzled the hot skin of my neck with his nose, before he pulled back to look into my eyes. “Tell me something else.”
I glanced away quickly, afraid to look back into his icy eyes.
“Does he make you come?”
I wanted to pretend that I knew what he meant. But I didn’t. I had no idea. I glanced up, searching his eyes for an explanation.
“C-come where?” I asked finally.
He chuckled again under his breath. “Come,” he said again as he ran his finger down the side of my neck, then skimmed it along the neckline of my dress.
“It’s not a place, it’s a feeling,” he explained. “A feeling so intense you come apart.”
Porter continued to drag his fingers gently across the delicate skin at the base of my neck. I held my breath, but the rise and fall of my chest didn’t stop.
“It’s what happens when a man knows how to touch a woman the right way. Make her feel things no one else can. Make her respond with the lightest touch, in just the right place.”
His face was inches from mine. I could taste his breath. Feel the heat.
“Oh.” I swallowed hard. My throat was dry, my breath harsh. He was talking about orgasms. Rebecca had explained them to me, about losing herself in Burt. I’d never lost myself, but something told me I could easily lose myself in Porter. Part of me was already lost in him, in his smoky voice, in the heat of his breath on my ear, in the tip of his finger against the fabric of my dress.
“I’d make you come . . . so hard.” His voice was rough as his finger continued to dip down beneath the cotton.
The pulsing in my private area increased, so much that I had to press my thighs together to numb the sensation. He glanced down at my crossed feet and smiled.
“Come on, Brin. Admit it,” he insisted softly. “You think about me, just as I think about you. I know you do.”
Involuntarily, as if somehow detached from the reasonable side of my brain, my head nodded up and down. Slowly. So slowly.
A little note from Melissa Brown…
Why I wrote this story…
Quite a few people have asked me why I decided to write this story— why I chose this subject matter instead of writing another light romance like the “Love of my Life” series. For some, this book seems out of character for a “Melissa Brown book.” The best answer I can give is that I just had to. I’ve been fascinated by this lifestyle for years, unable to wrap my brain around how a woman could share her husband.
The idea for Brinley’s story came to me over a year ago, and it stuck with me. I kept seeing the characters in my head and I knew that eventually I had to tell her story. Whenever I shared my idea with friends, they were intrigued. I think we’re all drawn to taboo subjects such as polygamy. We’re curious about those who live their lives so differently than we live our own. I’ve read several autobiographies from those who have left polygamous compounds, and have been fascinated. For everything I learned, I wanted to learn more. So, I watched documentaries, read more, devoured all of the information that I could. If I was going to tackle this topic, I knew that I had to be accurate.
For my readers who have enjoyed my contemporary romance novels, I hope you will give this one a try, as well. It’s different—that’s true. It’s a little darker, it pushes boundaries in a way that my other books have not. But, as a writer, this excites me. I want to continue to push myself as my career continues. I am not finished with light romance, but I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself in this way. And for that reason, this book has become my very favorite of anything I’ve written. And I promise, within the darkness there is still hope in this story. I can’t completely abandon my inner optimist.
Thank you for reading!