Published by The Ford Group Publishing on May 28th 2016
A story about marriage, family, and the silver lining that holds it all together.
Once an aspiring young attorney, Josie looked forward to taking on the injustices of the world—one case at a time. Eleven years later, she’s a stay-at-home mom and battling demons that don’t require a law degree. Only keeping up pretenses proves more than she can bear when a bracelet that should have been hers shows up on the wrist of another woman. Her marriage slowly begins to unravel as an ex-lover comes back into her life. When he offers her the dreams she thought she’d lost, Josie must chose between the man she married and the one she let get away.
John has always known exactly what he wanted. A career as a high-powered attorney, followed by the perfect family of six, and then elected public service. So it was no surprise that the first time he laid his eyes on Josie, he knew she was the one he’d share his dreams with. More than a decade, and one tragic miscalculation later, all he has worked for is slipping through his fingers. Powerless to stem the flow, the one thing he remains certain of: he can’t lose the woman he married.
Josie’s first big mistake, as it turned out, was putting John’s goals, his dreams and wishes, ahead of her own. As with the law, apparently so went marriage. Once a precedent had been set, it was next to impossible to overturn.
In this modern age, with so many women balancing career and family, she hadn’t expected to have to choose between the two. Nor had she realized there were still men like John who believed his success should be enough for them both; much less women like herself, who’d willingly exchange her dreams for the love of one such man.
For the first time in years, tonight she’d caught a glimpse of her old self, of the woman who had once been too brave for her own good. Who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, to fight for what was right. Unfortunately when John had said he was leaving, that woman had panicked and shamelessly thrown herself at him . . . An offer he’d flat-out refused . . . That refusal had struck like a single kill-shot, finishing off what was left of Josie’s self-worth, and she’d let him go without further argument . . . Where he could be at this hour, she refused to imagine. Not even in her mind could she stomach the sight of John’s body wrapped around that of another woman’s, his hands touching her in places he’d once promised to only touch Josie. With each passing hour, her hurt and humiliation had slowly been replaced by the numbness she’d grown much too accustomed to . . . She’d been trying to live this suburban life for too long, forcing herself to become a brand of woman she didn’t know how to be. The kind of woman she’d never wanted to be. She needed to stop, to just say no, but she couldn’t figure out how. How did a mother of three young children—angels she loved beyond belief—with a beautiful home and a handsome, successful husband justify not wanting her life anymore?
John had never given much credence to self-help jargon like doormat, codependent, inner-child. Baggage. But for the sake of argument, he spared a thought to what so-called baggage he’d been lugging around since his childhood. The image of a weighty chip, a sarsen that looked a whole lot like his old man and had been clinging to his shoulder for as long as he could remember, leapt to mind. How had he failed to recognize that the one person he loathed most had been the very person dictating his behavior all these years? Wasn’t life peculiar? The way clarity and perspective came not in moments of peace and quiet reflection, but in times of turmoil, when one’s world had been knocked about and was just beginning to settle upright again.
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~~Reviewed by Evelyn~~
In a romance novel, we usually meet our couple before they are involved with each other. We get to enjoy watching them meet and we celebrate with them as they overcome various obstacles and gradually fall in love. THE WOMAN HE MARRIED by Julie N. Ford is a different type of story. It is a fascinating, but often painful, look into a marriage that is slowly falling apart.
John and Josie Bearden have been married for eleven years and they have three children. They met when John was a law clerk for Josie’s father who was a judge. John became a well-respected lawyer and, as our story begins, he is in the middle of his own campaign to become a circuit judge. He is also having an affair with Trisha Denton, a sexy former girlfriend who is now the public relations manager for his campaign.
Josie originally fell in love with Brian McAllistar. While in college and law school in California, they also travelled the world together trying to help people wherever they found a need, such as helping to build a water system for a community in Africa. One summer, instead of travelling with Brian, Josie was called home because her father was seriously ill. It was during this break from Brian that Josie met and fell in love with John. Unbeknownst to Josie, her father offered John a large sum of money, enough to become established in the law community, if he would marry Josie before Brian returned. Believing that John was in love with her, Josie accepted John’s proposal. Several years later, after two failed marriages, Brian returned town. As a friend, he encouraged Josie to finish her law degree and he hired her to work part-time in his law firm.
When we first meet Josie, she is very unhappy. She feels that John rarely pays any attention to her or the children, and she suspects he is having an affair because he “works late” almost every night. He is so oblivious to what is going on in Josie’s world that he doesn’t even realize that the Brian she works for is the same Brian that was her boyfriend for several years. To make things worse, Josie has started drinking. She often wonders what her life would have been like if she had picked Brian instead of John. As the reader, I was wondering the same thing. Where do we go from here?
I liked many things about this book. I liked that it was a different approach to the story, and as we sorted through the good and the bad in their marriage, we really didn’t know where they were headed. It held my interest to the end.
I liked Josie very much even though I often wanted to yell at her, “What were you thinking?” She was a strong woman who once knew exactly who she was but now is not so sure. She loves her children and is very involved in their activities. She also does her best to support her husband in his campaign even though he doesn’t seem to appreciate anything she does. The only thing she does for herself is work part time for Brian, but that almost seems like an afterthought. In spite of everything, she is still in love with her husband. I really wanted her to find herself and be happy.
I can’t say that I liked John much. I found him to be misogynistic and arrogant. Without giving away spoilers, there was one incident in particular in which his behavior was totally inappropriate and disgusting. I hoped I would get past it and begin to like John as the story went on, but sadly, I can’t say that I did. I questioned the author’s choice to include that incident in the book the way it was written, and I also question her choice to use a theme in another scenario in the book that will undoubtedly be extremely offensive to many readers.
All in all, I am giving THE WOMAN HE MARRIED three stars. It held my interest and I liked Josie, the heroine of the story very much. I do wish I could have liked her husband more. I also wish that author would have made different choices with a couple of key elements.
The sequel, NO HOLLY FOR CHRISTMAS, will be out in November. It promises to look back at Josie to see how she is doing. I’m looking forward to reading it.
I voluntarily read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.