Series: Playful Brides #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 1, 2018
“I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”
FINAL DECISION: I loved this second chance at love story uses the heat and pride of the two main characters to weave a story about two people who loved one another but were too stubborn to fix things between them.
THE STORY: General Mark Grimaldi has devoted and sacrificed most of his life to protecting England as a spymaster. Now that the wars have ended, he’s about ready to achieve his greatest professional goal — to be named Home Secretary. There is only one problem for Mark. The job is basically his, but those making the decision prefer having a married man in the position and suggest that he find a wife. The problem is that Mark already has a wife, but one he has been estranged from for 10 years. Nicole has spent the last decade in France when he husband returns to ask her assistance in pretending to be a devoted wife. Nicole, however, has a demand of her own that threatens the emotional distance that the two have kept between them.
OPINION: I loved this book because Mark and Nicole are such a compelling couple. They are both too stubborn and prideful to admit to one another that they are in love. Instead, they have allowed the distance between them to fester and keep them apart for years. Yet, each yearns to be with the other.
The story is written such that the past is interwoven with the present and this allows readers to understand what divided these two. As with most real life relationships, mistakes, keeping secrets, pride and stubborness dooms these two. These two want to be together and Mark’s promotion gives them the opportunity to breach the gulf between them.
Mark is a man who’s love for his parents and being placed in their dramas with their own families has led him to stubbornly cling to the promises he made to his father. This despite the problems it created in his marriage. His job has also kept him apart and made it difficult to connect to other people who might have questioned his choices. The solitary nature has allowed him to cling to pride rather than recognizing it as his fault.
Nicole was young when she married and her uncertainty allowed her to accept her husband’s anger rather than fight for her marriage. She is capable and unconventional, but she is waiting for Mark to show that he values her above everything else.
Just when I thought that the book was going to have to go deeply in a dark emotional journey, a mystery arises which allows Mark and Nicole to work together. The two do respect one another and just need to make themselves vulnerable to one another.
I really liked this couple and enjoyed their journey.
WORTH MENTIONING: There is another possible couple introduced and I hope we get their story before the series ends.
CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE LIKE NO OTHER is the ninth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can certainly be read as a standalone with the caveat that there are some small appearances by characters from other books. This romance is self-contained.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.