Author: Melissa Brown
Release Date: July 19, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
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Purchase: 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.
Rebecca and I were alone in my bedroom. Her children had fallen asleep easily, not entirely grasping their situation. They didn’t know they were being reassigned, only that they were at our home for a sleepover. Rebecca was apparently delaying telling them the truth.
She probably didn’t want to tell them that our prophet acted according to what he felt was God’s will, and no one in our community could question him or what was “revealed” to him by our Lord. It would be difficult to tell them that they’d lost their father, that they would never return to their home, and that their lives had changed forever because the prophet deemed it so.
“I-I understand that this was a revelation, but . . .” Rebecca sat on the edge of my bed, her hand covering her mouth, the skin surrounding her eyes red and puffy. “I love him. I love my husband.”
“I know,” I whispered, rubbing her back softly with the palm of my hand, attempting to soothe her as best I could. “I could see that you did.”
She wiped her nose with a tissue. “He’s kind and loving, and . . . and I just can’t imagine not being with him.”
“I think so.” I shrugged. I didn’t have children yet. And I could certainly imagine a life without Lehi . . . so did I? Did I really understand her? Perhaps not.
“I don’t know Elder Cluff. I don’t know him at all. And now . . . he’s to be my husband?”
Reluctantly, I nodded and said what I should say. “Lehi’s a good man.”
She gasped, looking startled. “Have I offended you? I hope I haven’t. I just—I don’t, I mean—”
“No, no. I promise.” I patted her on the shoulder. “I just wanted you to know that you’re safe here. That Lehi will take care of you and your children.”
She pursed her lips and stared at the carpet beneath our feet. “But I don’t love him.”
I knew what I was supposed to say. I knew I should tell her that she’d grow to love Lehi, that she’d have a warm and loving relationship with our husband, that she just needed to give it time. But I couldn’t.
I spoke the truth.
“Neither do I,” I whispered, shaking my head slowly back and forth.
She would lay with him; she would obey him. But she would never love him.
One thing that became glaringly clear after reading this book, even though I had seen snippets, is that Melissa Brown is a storyteller. She’s a master manipulator of words, forming them into cohesive strains of thought, embedding you into characters’ lives, and allowing worlds to come alive as never before. You don’t simply read her books; you exist within the pages. Multidimensional characters that aren’t ever quite what they seem as presented, topics that aren’t nearly as cut and dry as they appeared before, and emotions that wage a war of epic proportions inside your soul. These things and more are what I’ve come to expect in a Brown book and I’ll tell you what; I’ve never been disappointed.
I knew I wasn’t brave or strong. I knew my feet would never allow me to grow wings. They’d never allow me to fly.
To the naked eye, Wife Number Seven is a story about polygamy and LDS. A tale of a young girl, the seventh wife of Lehi Cluff, and the doubts that rage within her mind; her heart battling what she’s always known. Brinley Cluff is a rare bird; she isn’t simply just one thing. Something inside her core yearns to break free and no matter how hard she tried to ignore it, slowly and surely, day by day, it comes bubbling to the surface. Through small actions, choices of verse, or large defiances, there’s no doubt a storm is a coming. I welcomed it, I anticipated it, I furiously flipped the pages. I loved that she didn’t make her decisions blindly though. There was extreme thought behind them, but when it came to Porter, she was led by her heart.
With him, I didn’t feel the need to wrap my words in pretense or correctness. I was just…me.
Above all, this was a story of finding yourself, or making hard decisions, and facing truths that have long since gone by the wayside. It was a story of true, unwavering friendship and the devotion that comes with that. And at the core, it was a story of love. Pure, potentially devastating, and passion filled love. The characters of Brinley and Porter, with all their insecurities, sang to my heart. The need to be accepted as they were and not for what was expected of them is something I think can resonate in us all. Apart they felt alone but together they were nothing but pure magic. Any scene they were both in, the words just jumped from the pages. There was a sexual undertone that was much stronger than in any of Brown’s other novels and I liked it. I liked it a lot! You wouldn’t think to find that in a story presumed as being solely about polygamy, but as I said before, one must simply look beneath the surface. Peel back the layers and you never know what you will find. But I can guarantee you’ll come back for more!
Those whispers were coming together, becoming more cohesive, clearer and louder in my head than ever before.
From a whisper to a scream.
I was waiting for the scream.
One of the things I loved best about this book was all the side characters. I feel like they were the perfect complement to our main ones. From the sister wives, to her cousin, to Jordina, to Burt, to the Prophet, and Porter’s roommates. Even Brinley’s braid was a character all itself. That’s the beauty of Brown’s books though. You don’t simply get two main characters that dominate, while everyone else fades into the background. You are gifted a cohesive unit, each player having an intricate part. They all had their roles and if even one of them were missing, the story could have played out a completely different way. Involving them all, there was a mystery and suspense element that drove the book. Another facet to add to Brown’s ever growing repertoire, I enjoyed it immensely!
I needed to know if I belonged in his world. Because we both knew he’d outgrown mine.
I’ll admit to finding this lifestyle intriguing. Not to the point of actually wanting to be involved, but enough that I am slightly obsessed with anything I can find on TV. What Brown manages to do is give heart and a face to a subject that most look down on with scorn or poke fun at. She sheds light on a topic that has long been taboo and allows the reader to understand that while we may not comprehend the way they live, these people are people just the same as us and who are we to judge their religion? I felt like she humanized something that all too often is just a punch line. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book. For more reasons than I can count, make this your next read! I feel like all authors have that one book that is a game changer, and without a doubt, this is that story.
“I love you in a way that I didn’t know I could, and I love you in a way that I never will again.”
Note from the Author
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.