Manwhore. That's what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn't care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life's legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that's exactly what he'll give them.
Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents' funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It's a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . .
I did not want this one to end. Jessica Lemmon wrote a story that was a pleasure to read from page one. It was immediately engaging, well written, and plotted in a way that kept your interest as the story progressed. The characters and the dialog were authentic and they didn’t fell like “characters” but rather actual people. They stayed consistent, there were no moments where I felt that one of them acted in a way that was out of who they had been portrayed to be, and their decisions made sense.
Finishing a book that you love as much as I did this one is always bittersweet. On the one hand, you are glad to have enjoyed it as much as you did, thrilled that the characters you have come to love got their HEA, and glad, especially in this case, that the characters are in a better place than they were in the beginning. But I am sad it is over, sad that I don’t have any more new words to read about Reese and Merina.
Reese Crane has an image problem, complete with a flattering/not-flattering hashtag. His board of directors is holding this image issue over his head and refusing to appoint him to the Crane Hotels CEO position being vacated when Alex Crane retires. This is Reese’s dream position, one he has literally spent years working to attain, and refuses to let it be taken from him for a reason that he feels has no bearing on his ability to do the job.
Reese also has an issue that he doesn’t want to admit to himself. He has convinced himself he is hard, cold, uncaring, and incapable of commitment. Hence the string of single-night affairs that allow him to protect himself emotionally, but which may also cost him the CEO position as the board of directors is less than enthused by his reputation. This could be off-putting in a romantic hero, but it isn’t, as the reader quickly understands, it is not really what Reese wants, he is just afraid to open himself up to more. He hasn’t quite yet figured out that he is capable of being as passionate about another person as he is about the hotel chain.
Merina has a problem with doorknobs, her family’s hotel, and the new owner of that hotel. Of course, as we find out very quickly, this new owner is Crane Hotels. She is loyal, and while she does not see it at first, the commitment she and Reese share to being willing to do what it takes for things they care about is a tie that draws them together. She also wants to help the people around her, to care for them, to let them into her heart when they are hurting and to help them heal, so she is drawn to the part of Reese that he feels is broken, she wants him to see that he is capable of love and commitment.
Reese is convinced if he and Merina get married, the important problems, the problems he is willing to acknowledge, will be solved. So, Reese propositions Merina, thinking that this will solve his image problem and that as the marriage will be fake from the beginning, he will be able to stay closed off and guarded. He offers Merina the Van Heusen hotel as her divorce settlement and proposes a 6-month marriage of convenience that is in name only, except while in public, solving her issue with having someone else own her hotel.
You connect with both characters, and even though Reese is seen in a less than flattering light by Merina at the beginning, she quickly sees that his cold exterior is to hide a man who is not incapable of feeling, but rather scared to feel, because when he does he cares deeply, with his entire being.
The story itself is, in some parts predictable…but in a way that all romance novels are. The characters will meet, they will fall in love, one will be more reluctant than the other to acknowledge what is going on, and there will be a HEA, eventually. The pleasure in this story is how it is written and how much you care about Reese and Merina. You want them to get their HEA, your heart breaks for Reese and how hard he works to convince himself that he doesn’t feel. You feel for Merina, for how much she wants to help Reese become the man she has fallen in love with, the man he refuses to acknowledge still exists. He’s been hurt, and in a lot of ways he has never dealt with those hurts, so he is trapped in the past, behind the emotions that he has not resolved.
There were parts I loved, that detailing would be spoilers, but suffice to say that the author could have gone a certain direction with a couple of plot points, but chose to go in the less obvious direction, which I thought gave the story a fresh feel. One in particular I was expecting the entire book, but it never appeared, which pleased me.
I have read all of Jessica Lemmon’s books, and this is her best yet. I can’t wait for the rest of this series, Tag was a wonderful presence in the story and Eli mentioned enough you are accustomed to him as well.
Buy This Book!