I need to become addicted to another Harlequin series line like I need a hole in the head, but I think it’s now safe to declare that I’m hooked on Harlequin Romance. I think it was in a comment thread here at TGTBTU that someone dropped a Nicola Marsh suggestion in my ear, and if it was you: thank you mysterious commenter! What a delightful read this was!
Eve Pemberton has three best friends that she’s dubbed “The Bridal Babes.” Well, Babe #3 is getting married, and Eve is desperate. See, she’s single. She’s not wild about being single, but she’s also not willing to suffer through multiple dating disasters just to find a tolerable guy to escort her to this wedding. She’s also tired of her well-meaning, matchmaking friends introducing her to third cousins and old high school chums. What she needs is some arm candy. Some bait to throw off the scent of her well-meaning friends. And that’s where Bryce Gibson comes in.
Bryce and Eve knew each other when they were kids. In fact, the last time they saw each other was a disaster of epic proportions with Bryce breaking poor Eve’s heart. So imagine his surprise when she shows up on his doorstep and proposes a deal. In exchange for being her “fake boyfriend” for the wedding hullabulloo, she’ll introduce him to some movers and shakers in the Melbourne business world. As the new ad executive on the block at a very competitive firm (no Harlequin, he’s not a billionaire!), Bryce could really use those contacts.
Of course any romance reader worth their salt knows where this is headed. What I especially loved about this story was how Marsh was able to take some well-worn tropes and make them seem fresh and lively. Eve is your classic ugly duckling who grew up to become a beautiful swan. A brainy teenager, with no fashion sense and thick glasses, she’s made herself over to become a very successful event planner. She’s beautiful, smart, successful, but underneath it all she’s still the same old Eve. Will Bryce still be attracted to her when she’s lounging around her comfortable home in cut-off jeans and a ratty old T-shirt? Will he still be interested in her even when she’s not “on?”
Bryce had his reasons for dismissing Eve all those years ago, and that bit of mystery kept me easily flipping the pages. He’s grown up to be extremely successful, but he’s a workaholic. A charming, sexy, handsome one, but a workaholic nonetheless.
The conflict that keeps this story chugging along is their past together, and their own personal baggage. There were moments when I just wanted them to sit down and really talk to each other, and they do get around to that eventually. When it does come spilling out into the open, it’s hard to not root for these two crazy kids, and be charmed by them. Lord knows I was.
Another gilt-edged invitation lands on Eve Pemberton’s doormat. Rather than go to one more wedding alone, the practical businesswoman organizes a stand-in date for the day.
Rebel turned billionaire Bryce Gibson is almost a dream date. The only problem: he’s also the guy who broke a bespectacled Eve’s teenage heart….
On the dance floor Eve and Bryce make a convincing couple—but she’s in danger of falling for her first love all over again!