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Reviewed by Vera (Luxury Reading)

Sisters Sara and Rachel grew up in a Fundamentalist Mormon reservation with their father, three sister-wives, and numerous siblings. As both girls near their 16th birthdays – three years past the prime marriage age – they are presented to the Prophet in order to be married off. At the Blood of the Lamb community that the girls live in, men claim to receive revelations or testimonies from God about the women they are “meant” to marry; these revelations are then shared with the Prophet who determines whether or not the two people should be sealed in marriage.

Sara is told that she is to marry her uncle, while Rachel’s case proves to be more difficult. Sixteen men claim to have received testimonies for the beautiful Rachel, all wishing to add the shy teenager to their horde of wives. As a bidding war of sorts erupts for her hand in marriage, Rachel meets and falls in love with Luke, a recent arrival at Blood of the Lamb. Moved to the reservation by his father who suddenly found religion, Luke finds his new lifestyle ridiculous. Nevertheless, he puts up with the demands to please Rachel who is indoctrinated by her upbringing and deeply believes in the Blood of the Lamb teachings. She hopes against hope that the Prophet will consider her own testimony to marry Luke, and will allow her to become a first wife to the man she loves.

When the Prophet announces Rachel’s future husband, tensions run high and the girls’ already abusive father finds yet another outlet for his rage. While Sara knows that she must leave the community and her family behind for any chance at a normal life, she must also convince Rachel to join her before their fates are sealed…

[amazonify]0765326892[/amazonify]Written by the sister team of Mari Hilburn and Michelle Poche (pseudonym Claire Avery), who were raised in a fundamentalist Catholic community in Chicago, Hidden Wives is an intricate look into what life might be like for those born into a fundamentalist sect. Rachel’s and Sara’s stories were both enthralling and disturbing, leaving me with emotions ranging from sympathy to outright anger at their mistreatment. Sara was strong and resilient, ready to persevere despite her terrible lot in life. It was Rachel, however, that really grabbed and held my attention. She was so innocent and believing – and some may say brainwashed – that she could not see the truth despite being consistently wronged by every adult around her. Her ability to see hope where there was none and think the best of people who did not deserve it was heartbreaking to read about.

To say that I enjoyed Hidden Wives would be an understatement (if that was not already evident from my Summer Reading List). Some fiction can stagnate in favor of flowery language or unnecessarily long descriptions; while Hidden Wives was well written and informative, the story within was never dull. If you’re used to reading several books at a time, be prepared to make Hidden Wives your sole occupation until the last page!

I have 1 copy of Hidden Wives to give away, courtesy of the publisher!

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This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on July 24th.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Forge Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.