An Ideal Wife: A Novel by Gemma TownleyAn Ideal Wife: A Novel by Gemma Townley

An Ideal Wife: A Novel

byGemma Townley

Paperback | June 22, 2010

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How to ruin a perfectly good marriage: become an Ideal Wife!
Married to the man she loves—sweet, sexy Max—Jessica Wild-Wainwright is blissfully happy . . . except for one tiny little problem: She never confessed to an (almost) tryst with Max’s biggest rival right before their wedding. Eaten up with guilt and facing down threats of exposure, Jessica decides to give Max what he clearly still lacks: the Ideal Wife. With the help of her friends, she will become perfect in every way: doting, devoted, domestic—everything Max deserves.

However, the path to perfection is fraught with peril, from culinary chaos to a boudoir disaster that puts Max in the hospital with a broken leg and a sexy nurse (who is certainly Ideal in every way that Jessica is not). When Jessica rallies to run Max’s company—and is met with overt hostility by an obsessive co-worker and by an auditor determined to uncover everyone’s secrets, things become decidedly less than Ideal. Toss in a semiretired Russian stripper turned stay-at-home mom and strange men watching her apartment, and Jessica fears Project Ideal Wife has backfired miserably. Can a less than perfect wife save the day?

Gemma Townley is the author of The Importance of Being Married, The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook, Learning Curves, Little White Lies, and When in Rome. She lives in London with her husband and son.
Title:An Ideal Wife: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.1 × 0.55 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.1 × 0.55 inPublished:June 22, 2010Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345499840

ISBN - 13:9780345499844


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fun read I enjoyed this book as a light- hearted fun read. The plot was a bit silly, but still enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Rushed Wrap Up Book was the shortest of in the series Disappointed as the ending seemed rushed.
Date published: 2011-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Final Adventure Those who have read the first two books in the Wild trilogy will not be disappointed with this final chapter. An Ideal Wife has all the elements that made us fall in love with Jessica & Co. back in the first book. This time we pick up about a year after the events of A Wild Affair, and Jessica is still feeling guilty about lying to Max about Hugh Barter. To compensate for this, she launches Project Ideal Wife. Of course, because this is Jessica Wild, things do not exactly go according to plan. One of the things I love about Townley is the way she writes a climax. I have literally never laughed so hard. One of the other things is how real she keeps the story and how true her characters stay to themselves. While I am getting a little better at guessing what her twists are going to be (I had the Lawrence thing pegged right from the start), she still has the ability to surprise me. And when you get to the third book in a series, you need to still be excited and taken on an adventure. Townley does that here, wonderfully. It'll be sad to be without Jessica Wild, but this book was a great last hurrah with good closure. I think the first book, The Importance of Being Married, is still my favourite, but this one's a close second.
Date published: 2010-10-29

Read from the Book

Chapter 1     “WELL, ISN’T THIS NICE?”   I looked at my mother with what I hoped would pass for a natural smile. She was right; of course it was nice. There she was, on the other side of the table with Chester, her fiancé and my biggest client, and here I was, on this side of the table with Max, my husband. It was so nice I could scream.   I closed my eyes briefly as my hand closed sweatily over my phone. The text message had come through moments before: Thanks, honey, knew I could depend on you. I’ll be in touch. And as I’d read it, I’d felt sick suddenly, felt a layer of cold sweat leak from my pores.   The message was from Hugh Barter, and he was never going to leave me alone.   “Darling, are you all right? You look very strange.”   “Strange?” I forced another smile. “Sorry. Just … thinking about something.”   “Well, it’s very rude to think of anything other than the guests around your table,” Mum said pointedly. “And your husband is sitting right beside you, too.”   Husband.   I still wasn’t used to being married—it had been nearly a year, and I still got a slight thrill every time I introduced Max: “This is my husband.” And he would always wink at me, like it was our own private joke, the first of many such jokes that would bind us even more tightly together over the years. “My wife and I would like to thank you for taking the time to stop by,” he’d say, his eyes twinkling, even if it was just my friend Helen, and even if she hadn’t “stopped by” but had barged in during supper, flopped on the sofa, and insisted that we listen to the latest installment in her dramatic love life.   “This is nice. In fact, ‘nice’ doesn’t really go far enough,” Max said, in that voice that no one could ever quite read or be sure whether he was teasing or not. I raised an eyebrow at him and his eyes widened innocently. “What? It is nice. Especially the food.”   “You’re only saying that because you cooked it,” I said, forcing myself back into the room, forcing myself to concentrate on the here and now instead of worrying about that sniveling little rat’s request: £10,000. That’s how much Hugh Barter had asked for this time. The time before it had been £5,000. Relocation costs, he’d told me. A loan, he’d told me. His trip around the world hadn’t worked out as he’d hoped; he’d decided to come back to the UK. That was three months ago, and I thought the £5,000 would be enough, that he really did just need a bit of money to find somewhere to live, to tide him over while he looked for work. A favor, he’d said. Like the favor he was doing me by not telling Max the truth about us, by not telling Max that I’d been Hugh’s for the taking when I was engaged to Max. God, how stupid I’d been.   “And I cooked it only because you threatened to order a takeaway if I didn’t,” Max was saying.   “Yeah, well, cooking isn’t my forte,” I replied, stretching my lips into another smile. The cooking thing was a long-standing joke; Max regularly called me the worst cook in the world. And he was absolutely right. I tried following recipes but invariably got distracted and ended up burning things or adding too much of the wrong ingredient, or putting it in the oven at the wrong temperature. I’d once, in a fit of enthusiasm and desire to please, made Max a fish pie—his favorite—only to discover that the fish was still raw when I went to serve it. He’d never let me forget that one; he’d laughed for about an hour in spite of my protestations and threats never to so much as boil the kettle again.   “And why should it be?” my mother said immediately. She couldn’t cook, either. “A woman’s place is not in the kitchen, darling. Not anymore.”   “Of course it isn’t,” I agreed. “Is it, Max?”   Max looked at me wryly.   “No,” he said. “Luckily for you.”   I thumped him on the arm and managed a little laugh. Inside, bile was rising up through my stomach; I felt dirty even having a text from Hugh on my phone. I wanted to delete it, wanted to scrub it clean. But not now. Things were bad enough; letting myself become preoccupied with Hugh now, when I was supposed to be enjoying myself with Max, would just make things worse. “Anyway,” I said. “It’s not like you chop down trees or, you know, build camps.”   I took a gulp of wine and looked up to find Chester’s gaze on me, a slightly bemused expression on his face. “Chop down trees?” he asked.   “You know, like the traditional male role,” I explained. “The woman’s at home, cooking, and the man’s out killing animals and building houses. The point is, you guys don’t fulfill your side of that bargain, so there’s no reason why women should be the ones to cook and clean, right?”   “I guess,” Chester said. “Personally, I like to cook. It relaxes me.”   “Relaxes you?” My mother rolled her eyes. “How can cooking be relaxing? So many instructions!”   “Exactly,” I said. “Nightmare.”   “So,” Max said, turning to me playfully. “You don’t cook. And as I’ve said, I have no problem with that. I don’t expect you to cook. I would be perturbed, upset even, if you so much as attempted cheese on toast. But where does that leave us?”   I frowned. “What do you mean? You cook. We get takeout. I buy ready-prepared—”   “No, that’s not what I mean,” Max cut in, smiling warmly. “If I don’t cut down trees or kill wild animals and you don’t cook, what is it that we actually do? I mean, how do you define the perfect wife nowadays? Or the perfect husband, for that matter?”   I looked at him uncertainly. “I still don’t see what you mean.” I realized as I spoke that my voice sounded defensive, and I checked myself. The problem was, I felt defensive. Max was joking, I reminded myself firmly. Max always joked. He didn’t know anything. This was not about Hugh.   “He means, what makes a marriage great?” Chester said, leaning forward. “And that, my friends, is a question I can answer.”   “You can? I’m impressed.” Max grinned. “So come on, then, what’s the secret?”   “No secret,” Chester said firmly. “An ideal husband looks after his wife. Makes sure she has everything she needs, everything she wants. Tells her he loves her. Makes sure he shows it, too.”   “And the ideal wife?” Max asked.   “Does the same,” Chester said. “She looks after her husband, makes sure he’s got ironed shirts in the morning and a good meal when he comes back from work. She listens to him, gives him advice when he needs it, and is always there when he needs her.”   “A good meal and ironed shirts?” My mother turned to him in horror. “But that’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard. And, in case you’ve forgotten, I can’t cook and I don’t iron.”   Chester put his arm around her and grinned. “And yet I still love you.”   Mum, realizing that he’d been teasing her, rolled her eyes crossly, but she didn’t move out of his embrace.   “Although a man does appreciate a crisp shirt in the morning,” Chester continued wickedly. “Am I right, Max?”   Max caught my eye. “You’re absolutely right,” he deadpanned, moving his hand over mine and giving it a squeeze. I had tried to iron one of his shirts once. Suffice it to say the shirt was no longer in his wardrobe. It was too singed even to use as a dishcloth. “But we can pay other people to do those things and it makes no difference to the relationship. So we’re still no further in our definition.”   Chester shrugged. “I think I nailed it, other than the cooking and ironing. Being there for each other. That’s the key, right?”   “But is that enough?” Max mused. “Dependability, I mean?”   “The ideal husband, Max,” my mother said archly, “should adore his wife and not be afraid to demonstrate it. And I’m not talking about gifts and flowers, lovely as they are; I’m talking about being with her, about making sacrifices in order to be with her, rather than being at work every day until nine P.M.”   Chester whistled. “Here we go again,” he sighed. He turned to Mum, a serious expression on his face. “Esther, honey, I am crazy about you. But I am also the chief executive of a big private bank. Sometimes I have to work late. Sometimes very late. It goes with the territory.”   “There’s more to life than business,” Mum said.   “Yes, there is,” Chester agreed. “But businesses don’t run themselves. And it’s not like I have control over my diary anyway. My personal assistant fills it up.”   “So get a new assistant,” Mum said crossly. “One who knows how to say no. You say yourself that you regularly find yourself in meetings that you really don’t need to be in.”   “I know,” Chester sighed again, “but it’s not that easy. I need to know what’s going on.”   “You need to learn to delegate more,” Mum said tersely. “Jess delegates all the time, don’t you, Jess?”   Chester looked at me expectantly, and I forced a little smile. “Yes, of course, but that’s different. I mean, I’m not the chief exec of a bank.…”   “No, you’re not. And if you can delegate, then a chief executive certainly can,” Mum said.   “You’ve got to be realistic, Esther,” Chester said, looking ruffled. “You’ve got to live in the real world, you know, hard as that is for you. The real world, which doesn’t always revolve around you and your latest whim.”   “Chester, believe me, I know all about the real world,” Mum said, her voice tightening. “And I do not have whims or expect the world to revolve around me. As you well know. Personally, I don’t think an ideal husband would ever say such a thing. Certainly not in front of others.”   Max and I glanced at each other; this was obviously an argument that had been had a few times before.   Chester looked at her for a moment, then nodded. “You’re right,” he said apologetically. “You’re absolutely right.” He took her hand. “I’m sorry. I got defensive. I know I need to slow down a bit. But it’s not easy.”   “I know,” Mum said, looking slightly mollified. “But you have to understand that it isn’t easy for me being on my own all the time. I’m not like Jess. I get lonely.”   I frowned. “Hey, I don’t like being on my own,” I said. “I mean, I don’t mind it sometimes, but …”   “Yes, you do. You’re one of these independent types,” Mum said, looking at me as though I’d somehow let the side down.