Contemporary Romance 

F/M Pairing

Pub Date: August 24, 2021

Content Warnings: off page grandparent death, parent blackmail (sort of), SPOILER- house break in, blood mentioned on page, possible brain injury

On page sex where genital names are used 

Recommended for readers who enjoy: musician characters, great male friendships, angsty/brooding characters

GOODREADS

Look, I love the marriage of convenience trope. It is typically so implausible, but I love the fantasy of it. Add in having to keep it a secret, yes hello I am here for it. But this book just fell apart in the end.

The main premise of this is that Bran, the male main character, is at the peak of his career but has just suffered some sort of tragedy and meets up with Nelle, an emerging pop star, for one night of sex. But the night goes to shit when he is rude to her. She’s almost leaving and he proposes to her, literally. They decide they want something for just them, not the public and then run off to get married. Then they have a lot of sex and not enough conversations about their actual relationship. 

The whole deal of the marriage is that in order for it to stay a secret, Bran and Nelle can not be seen together in public. The only time they see each other is when they are in the same town. When they do meet up, it is mostly sex. They share some feelings. Nelle is raging against the patriarchal and misogynistic system that is the music industry. Bran is struggling with the loss of his Gran and his shitty dad. (His mom is never mentioned) 

The first couple of chapters were meh. I asked a friend who raved about it and she said it picked up at the awards ceremony. That is about half way. So I kept reading. I was clearly entertained enough to keep reading. There were some poignant moments as their relationship deepens from just physical to emotional. But overall it was just an average read. Then in the last 2-3 chapters it takes a turn.

Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers.

Nelle has decided she wants to try to make it work with Bran after he declares his love via a song. It was a big public declaration but also secret. She goes to his house. He is there. It is dark. Then BOOM there is a break in at the house. Bran is trying to give Nelle something in a jewelry box and also protect Nelle from the intruder. The intruder hits Bran on the head with a bat. Bran is down and bleeding profusely when Security arrives to attempt to get the intruder. Help is called for, they try to whisk Bran away and Nelle wants to go with. She informs the paramedic that she is Bran’s wife and then they let her in the ambulance. HIGH DRAMA

What will happen next? Will Bran live? Will he be hospitalized? Amnesia? Broken Bones? Brain injury? Concussion? Will the EMT out their marriage? Will the paps find out???

The next chapter starts and Bran and Nelle are on the couch while their best friends are in the kitchen prepping for Thanksgiving. 

Excuse me? Queue my rage. Are you kidding me? At like the 92% mark you create an external conflict of intruder causing the male main character to be pretty severely injured and I get NO hospital scenes? At this point I kept reading because I felt like I had to get some closure on this. But I got none. I don’t even know how long he was in the hospital. There is some light discussion about how he might have a concussion. Then the attorney comes in and says they found the intruder but they likely can’t prosecute due to Security Steve not seeing his face. Nelle says she saw his face. Lawyer says she can’t testify because she’s a lying liar who lied and told the paramedic that she is married to Bran. They confess it is true. Then they love each other and the book ends. 

Okay so there are a few other things that happen. But I don’t believe in their HEA. And I am mad about it. Here are the unresolved issues-

Nelle is a family person. Early on she talks/thinks about how upset her parents would be if they found out she’d been secretly married. 

Bran’s head trauma. Seriously, I can’t let this go.

Nelle bought Bran’s childhood home. But we don’t get to know why. Just because Bran didn’t take action against his shitty dad.

Where is Bran’s mom?

Why does Bran tell his BFFs about his sexual exploits with Nelle and then they keep talking about it? In front of everyone before THanksgiving. Like ”ha- isnt is so funny that last year Bran was stuffing Nelle on the kitchen counter” That is gross.

Why cant these two just have a damn conversation instead of making assumptions.

Anyway, for a book that started out as a meh read, I sure had a lot to say. But the big takeaway is that I did not believe in their HEA/HFN. The author did not give me enough to believe that these two can make it long term. Plus the unnecessary break in at the end. It felt pointless and forced.

The author did intrigue me with Bran BFFS- Arlo and Cormac. I did wonder if she intentionally gave them A B C names. I think she is doing another book with one of the friends. I don’t know if I will read it. 

For contrast- here is A review from Kate at Smexybooks. 

Grade: D

E-galley received via Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, Carina Press