I’ve been waiting for Michaels to change up her formula of endless second chance romances (with gorgeous brown-haired clones on the covers), so this was a breath of fresh air. This fake relationship/marriage of convenience romance was just what I was looking for from the author – still an angst fest, but with an element of surprise – and it had a twist I didn’t even see coming. The fast-paced, sexy, and emotional story held my interest the whole way through, and the great audio performances certainly made this bingeable. I read it in one sitting, and it has renewed my interest in the veteran author’s work.
The story follows Maren, a woman whose father is dying. He’s been battling cancer for years, and it’s now time to accept that the end is near. So when he mentions how much he’s looking forward to Maren’s wedding, she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that it’s been called off. Her boyfriend rushed a proposal before they’d even exchanged those three little words, and Maren soon realizes that she’s more disappointed that her father won’t be around for her big day than she is that the relationship is over. In an act of desperation, Maren finds a replacement who has the same first name as her disappearing groom – her best friend’s ex, an old college friend she hasn’t seen in years. They agree to have a wedding ceremony without actually making things official, but things quickly spiral out of control. Now the replacement groom seems like the perfect guy, but he’s not willing to be a woman’s second choice ever again.
I really loved Oliver, he’s a relationship guy who has put his heart on the line one too many times. He doesn’t want to get hurt again, and he knows that he’s quite literally Maren’s second choice groom, so even the sparks that fly between them aren’t enough to give him hope. I loved how easy and right things were between them, even as everything else was spiraling. It’s an angst-heavy romance that focuses as much on the drama as it does on the budding relationship, and there are some heartfelt family moments. If the loss of a loved one or cancer are triggers for you, then you might want to sit this one out – there’s a strong focus on Maren’s father and her grief. Yeah, there are some lighthearted and sexy moments between Maren and Oliver, but the story itself is pretty emotional. I loved the twists and turns, and how it felt fresh even while playing up the tropes. I’ve always been a fan of Michaels’ writing skill – even if I was burned out by the many second chance romances – so it was no surprise that the story kept me hooked. If you’re in the mood for something that’ll break your heart a little bit while also mending it together, then this is a very solid read.
The audio was excellent! I turned it on at the start of the workday and the epilogue was playing when I logged off for the night. Perfect. The audio performances held my interest all day long, and they’re two of my favorite narrators – Zachary Webber’s low, gruff voice is so endlessly soothing, and I’ve grown to love Vanessa Edwin’s voice as well. Only a duet performance could’ve made it better. The emotional story was definitely enhanced by their performances, and they made this even more compelling. It’s actually a pretty great listen for the office – not only is the 8ish hour runtime the perfect length, but it takes awhile before things heat up, and the steamy scenes are brief. You could feel the emotion in the performance, and I think I liked this even better because I was listening.
New York Times Bestselling author Corinne Michaels returns to the Willow Creek Valley Series in this stunning small town/fake marriage romance.
My marriage started as a lie.
But some lies are worth telling.
My father’s dying wish was to walk me down the aisle, and I’d do anything for him.
Even marry a man I don’t love.
So when my fiancé jilts me only days before the ceremony, I turn to my college friend, Oliver Parkerson, and convince him to marry me.
My family hasn’t met either man, so I’m confident we can pull this off.
But the feelings, our touches, the way my heart beats for him… none of it feels pretend. The way he holds me at night and carries me through loss tells me he’s not acting either.
I didn’t mean to fall for my fake husband, but real love was the one thing I couldn’t predict.
Except, nothing built on lies can last—I know that better than anyone.
But the truth might tear us apart forever.
Start the series today!
The books are interconnected enough that you’ll have a better time reading in order, but won’t have any trouble mixing things up. I’ve only read the first and fourth books, and I did just fine.
From New York Times Bestselling author Corinne Michaels comes a new second chance standalone love story.
At eighteen, I walked away from Willow Creek Valley for good.
I was young, scared, and stupid, and it cost me the love of my life—Grayson Parkerson.
Fourteen years later, a crash sends me back home to recover.
Back to where we met, fell in love, and planned a future.
The one he’s now living as a single dad to his daughter.
Working at The Park Inn together gives us a chance to reconnect, and seeing him with his little girl makes me long for the days when he was mine. One look in his gorgeous blue-green eyes, and it’s like I never left. One kiss, and my world is upside down. One night together, and I know without a doubt, in his arms is where I belong.
I’m not the girl I was—intimidated by his wealthy family and desperate to escape our small town. I can imagine a new life for us here.
But he’s learned to guard his heart, and trust won’t come easily.
How can I convince him to give first love a second chance?
Read the 3-star review here
About the Author:
Corinne Michaels is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romance novels. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love, and she enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak before finding a way to heal them through their struggles.
Corinne is a former Navy wife and happily married to the man of her dreams. She began her writing career after spending months away from her husband while he was deployed–reading and writing were her escapes from the loneliness. Corinne now lives in Virginia with her husband and is the emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun-loving mom of two beautiful children.
Connect with Corinne
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/corinnemichaelsbooks/
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