Light and playful, this started strong before fizzling along the way. There just wasn’t enough time spent with our couple together, with too much telling and not enough showing. I loved the easy, lighthearted vibe and I’m always up for a marriage of convenience where opposites attract, but there also needs to be time spent on the page together to build that romantic foundation. It’s a little sexier than Summers’ usual, which worked well for the story, and I loved some of the humor. There’s the foundation of a great read here, but the devil is in the details.
The story follows Hayden, a commitment-phobic Brit whose absentee father left a lasting impression. When Hayden’s father passes away, he discovers that he’ll need to get married in order to inherit. And Hayden really wants to inherit so that he can tear his father’s legacy apart… yeah, he’s got daddy issues. So when one of Hayden’s employees asks for a major favor, he proposes a marriage of convenience. They’ll both get what they want, then part ways as soon as possible. But spending time with Finley stirs up unexpected feelings in Hayden, and it’s not long before their fake marriage begins to feel real.
I’m a fan of Summers’ rom coms and have been loving marriage of convenience stories recently, so I didn’t hesitate to pick this up. And it was a lot of fun at the start. The initial banter between Hayley and Finley was so much fun, and I was sure that I was going to be in for a great read. But somewhere along the way, they started spending more time apart than together. And there would be page after page with little to no dialogue. It just didn’t do much to enhance the romantic relationship, and then the final act… well, it didn’t help. There’s a lot of good stuff going on in the story, but I’m left with a lingering sense of disappointment. Not one of my favorites from Summers, but it certainly did deliver a quick and funny read.
A swoon-worthy, buttery, uber-fun romance about a marriage of convenience between two people who couldn’t be more wrong for each other…
You know what’s great about applying for an art history Ph.D. program at one of the world’s most prestigious universities? I get to study what I love and land my dream job at the end of it. You know what’s not so great? Being told I’ll only get accepted to the program if I gain access to my aloof, uppity, super grumpy boss’s private art collection.
As it turns out, said boss—a one Lord Hayden Stuart—needs to get married to inherit his late father’s estate and earldom. And if there’s one thing Hayden Stuart is never going to want for real—it’s a wife.
So, we strike up a deal: I marry him and go live at his castle, where I’ll have unlimited access to his collection, he gets his earldom, and when the estate is settled, we part ways forever.
I may have fooled myself into believing I wasn’t risking my heart, but there’s one huge problem: I’m definitely falling for him. He’s not just another man. He’s THE man—an irresistibly good-looking, in-control, expensive-suit-wearing man who makes all the other men look like little boys. And the more time I spend with him pretending to be his wife, the more desperate I become to believe the lie.
But he’s never going to fall for some lowly Ph.D. student. So what if at the wedding he looked at me as if I’m the only woman in the world, and kissed me like he’s shipping off to war in the morning? It doesn’t mean anything.
Or does it?
Because the more we’re together, the more I realize that, even though we’re from totally different worlds, we have a lot more in common than I ever could have imagined.
Now all I have to do is convince him he really does want a wife…
*** Even Better Than the Real Thing is a standalone romance with a little extra spice than a regular Melanie Summers book. ***
About the Author:
SILVER MEDAL WINNER, READER’S FAVORITE WOMEN’S FICTION AWARD FOR THE AFTER WIFE (2020). TWO-TIME BRONZE MEDAL WINNER OF THE READERS’ FAVORITE CHICK LIT AWARD FOR THE ROYAL TREATMENT (2017) AND WHISKED AWAY (2019).
Melanie Summers made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published eleven novels and three novellas. She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.
In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally – then she’ll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for ‘K’ Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn’t require makeup and/or nylons).
Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, their three kiddos, one adorable but neurotic no-eyed dog, Lucy, and a small furry dictator named Nelson. When she’s not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something—more like just staying until they turn the lights off.
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