Title: Fiancé for Keeps
Author: Gail Chianese
Series: West Side Romance #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Available: April 26th
With one cancelled wedding, one weekend fling, and a lot of history behind them, can a
career-minded former couple finally get on the fast-track to true love—with each other?…
Tired of working long hours with no one to come home to, ER doctor Denise Saunders accepts a chance to compete on a reality dating show. But there’s only one person she trusts to review the contract—attorney Brody Nichols, the man she left at the altar five years ago. Needless to say, Brody is floored. Unable to convince her to opt out, and unwilling to stand by while she risks getting burned by the spotlight, he can only think of one way to protect the woman he’s never stopped loving.
Denise expected some surprises on Finding Mr. Right, but she’s beyond shocked to meet the last contestant: Brody. She doesn’t know whether to feel punk’d, pissed, or relieved. Yet as a series of hot hijinks and dueling bachelors ensues, Denise can’t deny he’s The One—and always has been. She knows she’ll have to come clean about their past to the show’s other contestants—and to Brody. But once she tells him the real reason she played the runaway bride, Brody may be the one to walk. Is honesty a risk she’s brave enough to take?…
Source: ARC from Lyrical Shine (Kensington Books) via NetGalley
I have to admit I’m a little torn about this second chance romance, because while for the most part I found it a quick read, and I always love a bit of reality TV mayhem in my romance, I also had a few problems with the romance itself that stopped me from completely enjoying it.
I really like Brody. He’s a hardworking, all-around good guy, and I feel like Denise treats him really badly in this book. He actually doesn’t do anything wrong, except fail to chase after her when she continues to run away. It’s not that I don’t like Denise, though, I just hate the way she fails to communicate with Brody.
This is tricky to talk about without spoilers, but it all goes back to why they split up five years before. Or rather, why Denise abandoned him practically at the altar. They never talk about it (not until nearly the end of this book), and I find it really hard to understand how a twelve year relationship can end just like that. Yes, Denise gets upset for a good reason, but again this is over something I would have expected them to have discussed at least once, since they were together for so long and a couple of weeks from getting married! Especially when it’s obvious that they still care so much for each other. So, I have to admit, the whole underlying issue of the end of their relationship didn’t work for me, which left the rest kind of shaky.
Such as the idea of going to your ex for help with a contract about you going to find Mr. Right. Which isn’t rubbing his face in it or anything, no no. Or ignoring him completely once he’s on the show, partly for ratings but mostly because, Oh, this guy’s a scientist! Clearly we are fated to be together! And the way she acts with Brody when they’re not on camera… yeah, Denise didn’t win any points from me. Brody is clearly out to win the girl this time, but she’s still running even though she wants him because of what happened before, which she’s still not going to tell him about because… reasons! Not impressed.
I don’t think the plot really helped me enjoy this one as much as I might have, because the reality TV is only part of it, and the rest is mostly Denise working herself into the ground so she can keep failing to act like an adult and run away rather than talk, while Brody seems perplexed and mostly waits for her to show him what he wants. No, Brody isn’t entirely innocent in this, but it’s more because he’s trying to be considerate than because he does something wrong. It left me kind of annoyed and a touch frustrated, because there shouldn’t be an issue between them yet they just won’t sort themselves out. Gah!
So overall I had similar issues with this book as the last one (Boyfriend for Hire), because when you get to the heart of it, not a lot actually happens and aside from the reality TV interlude, the story is stuck in a loop of behaviour that happens again and again and very few lessons are learned or progress made. It’s still a good read with some good characters, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. These two have so much history, so much heartache, and yet I felt mostly frustrated by their story rather than moved or swept away. In all, an okay end to a fun series – although I would be interested in seeing if Roan gets his own tale. I sense a story there too.
Fiancé for Keeps is out April 26th!
Visit Gail Chianese for more details.