A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Rural Wisconsin, 1907. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for a reliable wife. But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the simple, honest woman that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets — has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I really liked that the author built such rich backstories for his characters, but felt that there was far too much emphasis on sex in A Reliable Wife (I can see lust as a driving motivation for some individuals, but not for so many of the characters in the novel). I didn't find either of the protagonists particularly sympathetic, but I did want to keep reading to find out what would happen to them.