And I Thought Dracula Was a Bad Lover: A Review of His Woman His Wife His Widow by Janice Jones
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
I promised last week that I would come back with a full length review today. And a full length review you shall have. This review has actually been a long time coming. This week’s book was discovered before I even began RHRML. That was all the way back in 2019. Ah, such a simpler time when the world wasn't a dumpster fire. Anyway, a long-term friend of Reading Has Ruined My Life asked me to review this book one day; so Joni, this one is for you!
Please give a warm welcome to His Woman His Wife His Widow by Janice Jones!
Yes, this is a Christian fiction novel that I consider both a romance and a crime novel. And yes, I am an atheist about to review said Christian fiction book. Do not expect me to comment on any of the religious aspects of this book because I have no comments about them other than I don’t agree because I simply do not believe in any form religion. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to synopsis.
As always, a spoiler alert is in order. Also a quick content warning. At the start of this novel, our main character is a teenager; she begins the novel at 16-years-old. Her love interest is technically an adult; he clocks in at 19-years-old. I would call this ephebophilia, and it makes for an uncomfortable read at times. The age difference is brought up many times by adults who don’t agree with the main character’s relationship, thank goodness, and it is discussed in great length, but please be aware of this before going in. There are also a lot of scenes involving gaslighting, grooming, and one instance of physical abuse closer to the end of the novel. Now let’s crack into it.
Meet Lindsay Westbrook, our 16-year-old main character who narrates this story. When readers meet Lindsay, she’s a pretty awesome teen. She’s a good student with a great support system. She can be moody and rebellious at times, I mean what teen isn’t, but her mother has instilled some strong values, morals, and ethics into her. And then Lindsay meets Shaun. Upon their meeting, Lindsay knows that she’s going to marry him one day. The only issue with him is that he’s a drug dealer.
That’s a pretty big red flag, I’ll give her that. But the first major red flag should have been when our teenaged protagonist told the legal adult her age and he didn’t automatically walk away. I’d argue that Shaun was more into Lindsay when he found out her age because she’s younger and easier to manipulate.
Despite nearly every person in Lindsay’s life telling her not to date Shaun, she does. In fact, she marries him right after she turns 18. Things are alright between the pair for a little while. Shaun is showering his wife with fancy clothing, cars, a condo, basically everything she could ever want or need. Except for a loyal husband that is. As no one is shocked to discover, Shaun cheats on his wife. Like a lot. Like he has kids with two other women while he and Lindsay are married. Plus he has a child with another woman, Rhonda, from before he and Lindsay were together. Rhonda likes to pop up and cause drama with Lindsay at random times. And to top all of this off, Shaun’s mother Patricia hates Lindsay for no reason as well because why the heck not.
I will give Lindsay this, she is someone who is extremely loyal. She stays beside her man through thick and thin. For the most part at least. Spoiler alert, Shaun ends up in jail at one point and Lindsay cheats on him. I’m sure that’s shocking to no one. And thus this novel transpires into discussing what is right and wrong, learning about one’s true self, and learning to trust. As I’m thinking back on His Woman His Wife His Widow, I can’t really remember the overall point of the novel. Things just kinda happen.
Ok, I think that’s all I have to tell you synopsis wise. I’ll leave you guessing as to what occurs that makes me call this a crime novel. Hint, it’s not the drug dealing.
To be honest, I really thought this book was going to be a major mess. I did not expect to like it at all. I thought this was going to be a book I read for shits and giggles because I could not stop laughing at the synopsis. His Woman His Wife His Widow surprised me. I didn’t hate it, it was actually good. The plot is decent, and sometimes I screamed at the characters for making stupid decisions but I still felt for them. His Woman His Widow His Wife was an unexpected gem!
A rough around the edges, teeny-tiny gem that’s not worth a lot, but a gem nonetheless. At this point I should mention that it was published in 2009, and is very much a byproduct of that time. There’s a good handful of times where the author includes “no homo” jokes. They weren’t funny then, and they aren’t funny now.
But again, I surprisingly didn’t hate this book. Let’s move onto characters now. I’m only going to be talking about Lindsay because this is her story. Listen, I liked her character but I don’t think she got a satisfying character arc. She started the book as your typical headstrong teenager, and like the vast majority of teens, she relies on her mother to support her. By the end of the novel, she is a headstrong adult woman who relies on her husband to support her. I feel that part of this story is about Lindsay learning to be independent and not relying on others to fully support her, but that’s never seen. Everything is handed to her without question. For the most part, she just waltzes through life. There is so much more that Janice Jones could have done with Lindsay’s character.
This is the part where being an atheist has likely hindered my reading experience. This is a Christian fiction book after all, and part of Lindsay’s character arc does indeed revolve around her faith and relationship with god, but that’s all flown over my head. There are a lot of nuances to religion and vastly different ways to believe in a higher being and/or power that I certainly didn’t pick up on. So while I personally didn’t see much of a character arc with Lindsay, her arc could have been one regarding her faith and the way she views god.
One thing in this book is very clear though: Janice Jones does not condone minors dating adults. The author makes it very clear in the beginning that Lindsay and Shaun should not be dating. I literally pictured the author in the role of Lindsay’s mom at times. Let me give you a quick example:
“Would it be so bad if he were twenty and I was seventeen?”
“Yes it would,” Mama said rather sharply.
“Okay, what if we were twenty-one and eighteen?” I knew I was pushing it, but I couldn’t help it. Until she said no, I felt I still had a fighting chance.
“At eighteen, honey, you are a grown woman, dating a grown man. Right now you are a sixteen-year-old child trying to date a grown man.”
Listen to the mom of this novel! This is now a PSA for all the readers out there who are minors. If you are a minor, do not date a legal adult! They do not need to be hanging out with you let alone be in a romantic relationship with you! I know that I’m just a random stranger on the internet, but if you have one take away from this post it should be don’t date an adult if you are a minor! Think of me as a cool older sister and take my advice, children.
Okay, I’m gonna get off the soapbox now and we’re gonna get back to the review. Basically the point I’m trying to make is that I greatly appreciate Janice Jones’ statement on this couple’s relationship in the beginning. She does not agree with it, and that’s great. Jones does a 10-out-of-10 job at depicting a toxic relationship through its infancy to its end. I think that's why this book is so successful in my eyes, and the main reason I probably liked this book as much as I did. If there is one take away from this book it is certainly don’t date an adult as a minor. That should go without saying, but some people do need to hear that.
On that note, I shall bid you all adieu. His Woman His Wife His Widow was far better than I ever expected, and I’m not mad that I read it. I’ll return next week with a super special edition of Reading Has Ruined My Life.
Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.