The Willful Wife by Alana Clayton
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-5870-5
I have no idea why I picked up this particular Regency when I visited my local bookstore last week. The cover is nothing special, I don't know the author, the title is fairly commonplace, and, when I think on it, the back blurb suggests a storyline that is not usually to my taste. Yet pick it up I did, and now, I find myself recommending it. Maybe it was "second sight" that led me to The Willful Wife.

Yes, that must be it because this book is about a young woman who has the ability to see into other people's minds and to recapture past thoughts and actions. She has "second sight" and it has not really added to her happiness.

We meet Nicole Worth as she is foreseeing the arrival of two men, one of whom wants her advice about finding some stolen jewels. The other is Jordan Worth, the husband she left almost seven years earlier when he and his mother's reaction to her gift made her life intolerable. Now she has decided it is time that she return to her marriage. She is stronger now, more able to defend herself. And she feels she can no longer deprive her son of his father or the father of his son.

Jordon is shocked when he discovers who the psychic his friend wishes to consult really is. He had searched for years for his missing wife, but had given up, assuming that she was dead. Now he has plans to marry again, once Nicole can be declared legally dead. When he discovers that his wife has reentered his life and that she has kept his son from him for six years, he is justifiably angry. But for his son's sake, he agrees that he will make an effort to accept Nicole back into his life.

The plot revolves around Jordan's continuing rejection of Nicole's gift, her involvement in the effort to identify the jewel thief who is preying on the ton, her efforts to help a young couple find the documents that will enable them to regain their home, and the efforts of Jordan's mother and erstwhile fiancée to get rid of Nicole by fair means or foul.

There is little mystery about the villain, more mystery about the mother's motives, and even more mystery as to whether Nicole and Jordan will be able to recapture the love that once brought them together.

Clayton does a good job detailing the motives that drove Nicole away and that brought her back. She convincingly portrays the feelings and fears of a couple who are finding their way back to love. And she effectively develops the fantastical elements in her story.

The Willful Wife is an entertaining Regency with a paranormal twist. The characters and setting are well drawn and interesting, as is the plot. I found myself enjoying the time I spent with The Willful Wife.

--Jean Mason

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