The 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge was created and is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. You can find my full TBR here, and keep reading for my spoiler-free thoughts on The Real Mrs. Price by J.D. Mason.
Content Warning: Domestic violence (in the first scene/chapter and others), racism, sexual assault, explicit sexual language, objectification, prescription drug addiction
The Real Mrs. Price
- 327 pages (physical book)
Lucy Price is living the American dream. She has been married to her successful husband and businessman, Edward Price for a year and couldn’t be happier until she learns that Eddie is a dangerously ruthless man, heavily involved in illegal activities that threaten not only her marriage, but her life. Eddie abruptly disappears, but not before warning Lucy that if she wants to keep breathing she’d better keep her mouth shut. Six months later, word of her husband surfaces when she learns that he is presumed murdered in a small Texas town, apparently killed by his “wife”, Marlowe Price.
Marlowe is no stranger to trouble. An outcast in her own community for being one of those “hoodoo women,” who can curse you or cast you under her beguiling spell, Marlowe is shunned at every turn. Six months ago, a whirlwind romance in Mexico led Marlowe to marry the man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. For Marlowe and Eddie, there is no such thing as trouble in paradise. But late one night, when Marlowe witnesses her husband putting the body of a dead man in the trunk of his car, the illusion comes crashing down around her and she knows she has to move fast before the devil comes calling once again.
Now, Lucy and Marlowe must come together to find out where and who Eddie really is, and help each other through the threat he poses. There’s nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned…except for two women scorned who are willing to put their pasts behind them and band together to take one bad man down.
It feels like I’ve been going 90 miles per hour for the past few days while reading The Real Mrs. Price – and I’m not waiting to catch my breath before ordering another title from J.D. Mason.
Every scene in this romance+suspense novel could be described as severe, intense, specific – from the terribly violent to the most sensual moments; I felt shock, surprise, anticipation, and the color rising to my cheeks on more than one occasion. There are quite a few descriptive sex scenes, some of which are a result of a sort of enemies-to-lovers relationship, as well as a more will-they-or-won’t-they situation. J.D. Mason wrote these scenes with a similar specificity that not only highlighted vulnerability and intimacy, but consent and the use of condoms – all in a literary, even poetic, way.
J.D. Mason’s captivating writing style did not stop with the intimate moments. The characters were all exquisitely described – by themselves and others (sometimes toeing the line of objectification) – as were the settings. J.D. Mason gave just enough for readers to be able to fully form the imagery in their heads, before continuing to speed further into the thick of the plot.
I do not read Romance very often, so I cannot adequately compare this book to others in the genre, but I do feel comfortable claiming that The Real Mrs. Price is for both romance plot-readers and character-readers. Both elements are so important to this story that if one fell flat, it was likely the other would too, but J.D. Mason perfectly balanced both throughout the story; I was on the edge of my seat right up to the very end.
To expand on this: our main character, Marlowe Brown, becomes not only a widow (presumably) but an outcast in her community. Racist and misogynistic attitudes and actions are directed at her after her husband’s disappearance, from fellow townspeople, police officers, and other town officials. The scenes with these retaliations and hateful views are more fleeting than other parts of the book, but the way they are written and so interwoven with the rest of the story emphasizes their fictional and real-world implications.
Additionally, the battle between head and heart plays a large part in the book. Both Marlowe Brown and Lucy Price go through various stages and moments of trying to decide between what their heart tells them and what is running through their mind. We get to know both characters quite well, and their actions – whether they listen to their head or their heart – feel realistic and not at all like simple modes through which to move the story along.
The heart added flavor and aroma and colors to life. All the decisions made from the head were various shades of gray, sounding the same, feeling the same. Marlowe lived with too many mistakes to count, but while she was making them, she had loved them all with a passion unrivaled by anything resembling sound reasoning and common sense.
Like most suspenseful novels I’ve enjoyed, I didn’t quite guess exactly how the conflicts were going to pan out. So while my suspicions were focused around the right elements, I was still a bit shocked when the truth unfolded. I didn’t want the book to end, but couldn’t help but race to the finish to see how J.D. Mason decided to conclude the story.
The Real Mrs. Price is part of a trilogy, and in the next book – Seducing Abby Rhodes – the protagonist changes but the setting and Marlowe Brown are still part of the story. I am looking forward to this, although I hope Marlowe plays a bigger part than book two’s synopsis indicates. Let me know if you’ve read The Real Mrs. Price, and if you’ve continued in the series. I would also love more J.D. Mason recommendations if you have them, and if you are looking for an intense romance novel with quite a bit of suspense (and considered the content warnings), I recommend picking this book up.