Wife for Hire will mainly appeal to those who want to see what kind of a writer Janet Evanovich was before she began writing about Stephanie Plum. The deftness of the Stephanie Plum numbered novels becomes more apparent when you see Ms. Evanovich struggling to find a way to conclude Wife for Hire.
Hank Mallone, a young man with a reputation for not being serious, cannot convince his family, friends, and acquaintances that he's determined to make a success of being an organic apple farmer in Vermont. His solution? Pretend to be married. How? Hire someone to act as his wife.
Maggie Toone, a Jersey product, wants to escape from her life as a teacher to write a novel about her Aunt Kitty's career as a madam. She mainly needs peace, quiet, and some low-cost living. On a whim, she takes up Mallone on his offer.
From there, the story becomes an expected romance punctuated by some funny misunderstandings. I thought the most interesting part of the book came in reading about a Grandma Mazur prototype, Elsie Hawkins, who is Mallone's housekeeper/cook.
Misunderstandings abound, and some fun arises in the process. If you decide to read the book, focus on the fun.
The book gallops along at a nice pace until near the end where it takes an inauspicious turn away from being interesting. My impression is that Ms. Evanovich ran out of ideas for making the story interesting and simply limped to the finish.
If you like lots of schmaltz and predictability mixed in with your humor, you'll probably think this is a good romance novel. I was not amused enough to feel that way.