Catherine Lang was given the unenviable job of delivering the letter that would break the engagement between her stepsister, Devon, and Luke Quintain. Catherine is shocked to discover that the wedding was to be more of a business arrangement in the first place, since Luke needs to marry before his 36th birthday or he will lose family land that was to be his inheritance. Before she really has time to think, she is offering to take the place of Devon and marry Luke herself.

While Luke can initially think of many reasons to turn her down, he agrees to Cat's offer. Marrying Devon could have remained a business arrangement with the fringe benefit of sex, but Luke finds Cat to be captivating. Her natural mix of innocence and sex appeal draw him to her even as he convinces himself the arrangement will be only temporary.

Cat doesn't see it quite the same way. She wants Luke, and she believes the two can find a happily ever after if she can just get past the walls Luke has built around himself. But there are times where it seems that the harder she tries, the firmer Luke plants his feet. Now it seems like simply a test of wills—whose resolve will wither faster?

Despite some thin and predictable storytelling, THE SUBSTITUTE WIFE is a light romance Ms. Schulze's fans will enjoy. Readers unfamiliar with the author might be put off by a lack of real "meat" to the story and a repetition of "telling" rather than "showing." (Apr., 384 pp., $6.50)

Reviewed by: 
Debbie Richardson