There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer...I would tell you what they are, but then I'd have to kill you. But I can tell you that Fiona's husband - the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer - is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After 14 years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona's talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away. However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone - Greg most of all. It seems like Greg's wish has come true. Except...not. When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?
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Penny Reid again demonstrates her ability to write romance from an unusual perspective. This book is about a couple who have been together for 18 years, with two young children. Because of their jobs (H is oil worker, wife h is former CIA operative), they have a marriage dominated by long periods of separation.
This constant separation means that the h has learnt to cope as a single mother, and carries the burden of the day-to-day monotonous details of trying to raise young kids, hold down a job and run a household, which leaves the H, in his rare moments of attendance, often feeling rather superfluous to requirements. Although there is an undeniable deep love between the two, there is also a huge lack of communication, mainly because the h desperately wants to avoid conflict so that they can enjoy their infrequent times together, and the H, in his need to feel involved in a family that has learnt to function without him, often dictates autocratic decisions to his wife from long distance.
The unusual plot twist in the middle, (H is taken hostage overseas and h flies over to rescue him) is the catalyst for the couple to confront the damage that their lifestyle is causing to their marriage. At this stage I really started to dislike the H. He habitually overruled his wife’s decisions and in times of crisis ignored his wife’s extraordinary abilities. He was like “a bull in china shop” blundering around trying to be the hero, while refusing to utilise his wife’s amazing talents. He was so scared of putting her in danger that he increased the danger to them both by failing to let her help and refusing to accept the contribution she could make to their partnership. What annoyed me most was that he failed to change this attitude throughout the book, no matter how many times he witnessed her “in action”, and continually justified this by explaining how much he loved and needed her and didn’t want to put her at risk. I kept thinking he would suddenly have an epiphany and realise how amazingly capable she is but no, he just kept trying to exclude her from everything.
This is not my favourite Penny Reid book. Many marriages fail because the love dies, so it was weird to see a marriage failing when the love was so strong. I would have liked to see the couple actually make a long distance marriage work as so many people, ( e.g army spouses) learn to do in real life, instead of the solution that came at the end of this book. However Penny Reid does explore the fact that after the “happy ever after”, there does come a long of hard work to make a good marriage. The conclusion was interesting in that things were not really concluded. Instead of wrapping up the ending in a nice, neat little parcel, we are left with the couple in the constant ebb and flow of discussion, compromise and decision making that is needed to make a successful marriage. I guess that this, in reality, is a real “happy ever after”.
Regardless of my criticisms, this is a good book, better than most in the genre, and still worth a credit.