By Melissa Amster
How can I resist a book marketed as similar to "Desperate Housewives," especially when it has a lot of sex and scandal? Therefore, I was drawn in to "Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives" from page one!
Josie Brown takes us into a suburban community of high society women who like to gossip--a lot--and label those not like them as "undesirables." Lyssa Harper risks converting from high society to an "undesirable" when she takes the newly divorced Harry Wilder under her wing. At first, the other women take to welcoming in their own rather seductive ways, but when Harry pulls the plug on their overt gestures, he becomes an "undesirable." And Lyssa feels her loyalty is split between her friends and her willingness to be there for Harry every step of the way, even to her own husband's chagrin.
I had a delightful time reading this story. It was full of the promised sex and scandal (and yes, the sex was detailed enough to make me turn a few shades of red...just the way I like it in my chick lit novels). Lyssa was very easy to relate to, as she was the most down to earth of all the moms and not afraid to put all her faults out there. It had a realistic appeal to it, as there are tight knit suburban communities where people risk becoming an "undesirable" if they cross the wrong person on the high society end. I liked that the unlikeable characters were not satirical, as it went well with the realistic feel. It was easy to visualize people and places, based on Ms. Brown's detailed descriptions. While some of the twists and turns felt as predictable as "Desperate Housewives" sometimes tends to be, there were still a few surprises to keep the excitement flowing throughout.
The only criticism I have is completely minor and personal, as Ms. Brown used product placement to endorse my most hated restaurant of all time (IHOP). She could have sent her characters to Denny's or made up a random pancake house. However, she redeemed herself by also giving Trader Joe's a nice mention.
I definitely recommend "Secret Lives..." to anyone who wants a juicy and scandalous story that also examines relationships and friendships in a manner that all readers can relate to, even if they haven't been in Lyssa's shoes. It was also good entertainment while waiting for "Desperate Housewives" to return from their month-long break. I'm looking forward even more to reading "The Baby Planner," now that I have read something so enjoyable in Ms. Brown's writing style.