I have to admit, as much as I love reading historical romance, I haven’t read many of Sherry Thomas’ books in the genre. No reason, it just hasn’t happened. But I can tell you that if she continues to publish contemporary romance, I’m the first in line. I love everything about this book, even though the heroine does hit a couple of nitpicks. Doesn’t matter, because for once I can let a pet peeve go and still be very happy with the story.
Evangeline is one who keeps everything closed in, so when life gets a bit too tough, she decides this particular night to take a walk in the rain, hoping her stress level will wash away. What she gets is an unexpected one-night stand that, as spectacular as it was, also ramps up her stress even further, because she can’t stop thinking about that doctor next door. It’s a lot of weeks before she sees Bennett again, and in the meantime she’s kept busy seeing after her stepmother, Zelda, who is very bi-polar, and keeping up with her scientific work.
Aside from the characters in this story, what I love is the reader is as surprised at all the twists and turns as Eva is when they happen. Now that Bennett is back, he’s proposed she be his pretend girlfriend to help him get back in his parents’ good graces. See, they didn’t like his relationship with an older woman back when he was only sixteen, and when he took off to be with her anyway, he was disinherited and he hasn’t talked to his folks in all those years. He’s grown up, of course, over those years, seed things now he didn’t or wouldn’t see back then. Eva doesn’t want to get that involved, though she finds herself agreeing to most anything he dishes out. She can’t seem to help herself when it comes to this man. Thus, those twists and turns keep coming.
Normally the pretend girlfriend/boyfriend trope doesn’t work for me. But for some reason I have no problem with it here. When we finally see more into Bennett himself as he’s revealed little by little, I actually like his reasons when he decides on Eva to pretend with him. My other nitpick is the heroine taking so long to come to grips with her feelings for the hero. Evangeline does this, but her issues of abandonment and intimacy are bone deep, along with how she and Bennett have come to this point in the relationship, so even though she says she loves him and she walks away, I get it and it doesn’t bother nearly as much this time around.
Life has many cross connections, and this story is full of them as these characters learn more about the other. Life is messy. But we go on and do the best we can in circumstances as they come along, and both Bennett and Eva, along with all the secondary characters, live their everyday lives, shift emotions and reactions to get through. I like that it’s Bennett who voices those emotions first, though it’s mostly because Eva wants only the status quo when it comes to their relationship. He’s learned what it takes to live that life the best he can, it’s now Eva who has to learn that lesson.
I read a snippet somewhere that this may be the only contemporary romance Ms. Thomas writes. I really hope not. I’m totally captivated by her ease of writing in this genre, the intrigue of her characters and their stories. It would be a shame not to read such absorbing stories in the future.
When Evangeline Canterbury meets the gorgeous, intriguing doctor next door, all she wants from him is a bit of distraction, to help her get over a few rough days. Her one-night stand, however, has other plans: He needs an accomplished and presentable girlfriend to bring before his parents—and for six months of her time, he is willing and prepared to spend an obscene amount of money.
Nothing but trouble can come of such an arrangement. But can Eva stop herself? Or will she fall headlong in love with a man who will leave her when their contract expires with a smile, a check, and hardly a backward glance?
Read an excerpt.