A review of

The Bad Boy’s Wife

by Karen Shepard

Central question: When a marriage is over, how do entangled hearts begin to disentangle?
Format: 272 pp., hardcover; Size: 0.95” x 8.56” x 5.74”; Run: 25,000; Price: $23.95; Editor: Jennifer Weiss; Book designer: Anne Twomey; Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; Age at which author wrote her first (published) novel: 31; Age at which she wrote her first (unpublished) novel: 27; Time she spent writing this one: 2 years; Author shares a study with: her husband, writer Jim Shepard; Representative sentence: “Donna had shown her her Divorce Workbook, the notebook she was supposed to do her divorce exercises in.”

When a bad-boy horse trainer settles down with a girl who loves a roller coaster ride, it’s no wonder that their daughter has trouble sleeping. Ten-year-old Mattie is the child raising her parents in Karen Shepard’s The Bad Boy’s Wife, a wonderfully perceptive treatment of a marriage based on passion—and not much else.

The novel begins with Mattie’s mother, Hannah, lurking in the shadows of her ex-husband’s new life. After a fifteen-year marriage, bad boy Cole has ditched Hannah, but for her, divorce is just a word. She spends much of her time in the stables within shouting distance of the house Cole shares with his new wife and baby. Hannah exists in a dream state of nostalgia and self-torture. She fantasizes about forgiving Cole “for Mattie’s sake,” and taking him back, “but only if he asks,” while she perversely admires and wishes she were her replacement, the new wife.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Ann Cummins

Ann Cummins is the author of a story collection, Red Ant House. She’s currently writing a novel.

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