Unlikely Wife by Debra Ullrick: Inspy Historical Romance Review

Back of the Book

The arrival of Michael Bowen's bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He's been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman! 
Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael's letters, even if she couldn't read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that "friend" left things out, like Michael's dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won't change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.

The cover intrigued me first with this book. I’d never seen a woman in trousers on a cover. I read the back and learned she carried a rifle and couldn’t read. That seemed different. A young woman who disguises herself as a man is a fun and oft-used trope in romance, but I’d never run across a heroine not in disguise, and made no bones about dressing as she did.

Nor did Selina have plans to start wearing dresses to please Michael. Stronger yet, she had no plans to ever do anything because Michael told her to. The illiterate, hard-edged woman not be controlled by a man. Was she ornery, or what?

I didn’t relate well to Selina at first. I found I couldn’t “be” her as I read the story. If I met her in real life, she probably wouldn’t be in my circle of friends, although the women in the story had no trouble welcoming her into the family fold. 

Selina had some softer edges as well, some highly likable qualities, I discovered as I read. She worked hard, was good friend, and had a way with animals. I began to see all the things to love about Selina, and Michael saw them soon afterwards. 

I liked Michael all along, and felt really bad for him in the beginning, knowing that the soft-spoken, cultured woman he thought he had married did not exist, and would never exist, in Selina. 

I felt bad for Selina, who felt she was someone no man could ever love. She was a good person, and willing to make small changes to be more loveable, but she really couldn’t change her stripes. She couldn't be someone entirely different from who she was, nor should Michael have expected it of her. Any marriage where one person expects their mate to become someone entirely different is just plain wrong. 

In the end, Michael had to change the most. He had to grow to appreciate and love Selina as she was.

Debra Ullrick did a wonderful job of illuminating her theme of accepting and valuing people for who they are.
With this particular setup, she showed readers that sometimes God has decidedly different plans for our lives than we have for ourselves. Sometimes God’s plans take a good amount of getting used to. But if we are willing to open our hearts to His ultimate wisdom, we can grow to appreciate the difference between our idealized life and our actual one. And maybe, just maybe, the gifts of the real life are greater than anything we might have imagined. 

I read an interview with Debra Ullrick where the interviewer asked her about her favorite romance authors. There are, of course, many authors that Debra likes, but she was able to single out a handful for their poetic prose. I’d also include Debra in that category. She is a poet and writes beautifully.

But what set this book apart from other romances for me was her heroine. Selina was so spirited, and so unusual, that she practically leapt off the page.      


  1. Enjoyed this review--has intrigued me enough to want to read more. Thanks! (and, btw, I took you up on your challenge over my way. Just thought I'd let you know!)

  2. Cathy, Thank you so much for your beautiful and heart-warming comments about my story. They actually made me cry, for two main reasons. One, you got the message. And two, I have always loved poetic writing and so wanted my writing to be poetic as well but felt I forever fell short. Then you said that I fit in that category, that I was a poet and wrote beautifully. You will never know how much this post means to me, Cathy. Thank you. You've touched me deeply, and I am blessed because of it.

    God bless you.

    Debra Ullrick

  3. Kenda, come back on Thursday and you'll see my picture of sky. I loved your Haiku.

    Debra, I really loved your book. I read it before Unexpected Bride, but it worked fine to read them out of order. It just made me want to go back and read the first book. You ARE a poet. You really are.

  4. You are so sweet. Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed my books. As a writer, you know how that feels. *smiling*

    Thanks again.


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