When the hero’s ex influences the plot from start to finish, it certainly puts a damper on things. Beyond the complete and utter lack of communication between this newly married couple, it felt like every time I started to get into the story, the hero’s ex would be mentioned again in some way that would be totally off-putting. She’s kinda/sorta the reason they got married, she’s kinda/sorta the reason their sex life was front and center, she’s kinda/sorta the reason why they continued fighting… it all felt kinda/sorta toxic, and just too much. I’ll be the first to admit that this series has been uneven for me (I loved Juniper Hill though!), but I was excited for this particular installment. It features tropes that are some of my favorites, so it SHOULD have been a home run. And it did not take long at all to realize that just wasn’t the case.
The story follows Eloise and Jasper, two near-strangers who drunkenly decide to get married while in Vegas. While the two are loosely connected by Eloise’s family, they hadn’t spent any time together before getting hitched. So it’s no surprise that they both woke up with regrets, and an annulment seems to be in their future. Unfortunately, Eloise has been trying to show her parents that she’s responsible enough to run the family hotel by herself, and getting drunkenly married in Vegas is probably not the way to do it. Jasper has his own reasons for wanting to put on a happy front, so the two agree to fake their relationship for the foreseeable future. But as these two newlyweds move in together and continue to heat up the sheets, they realize that there might be more to their relationship than either expected.
On paper, this sounds right up my alley. I love a good Vegas wedding romance, fake relationships are my favorite, and I’ve enjoyed other installments in the series. However, something was off about this one from the start. Eloise and Jasper don’t communicate with each other for so long that it would feel like a spoiler to tell you when they finally get their act together, lol. That doesn’t seem to stop them from banging as much as possible, so it felt like an f-buddies situation between spouses that transformed into love somewhere along the way. I wish we’d seen more of the transformation. Instead, a significant chunk of the story is devoted to references to Jasper’s previous relationship, and every piece we discovered just made me cringe more and more. It felt like that toxic relationship drove much of the toxicity in present day, and these two couldn’t escape that old situation. Again, it’d be spoiling major parts of the storyline to go into detail, but I was really not comfortable with just how much Jasper’s ex influenced the evolution of Eloise and Jasper’s marriage. I was at least considering a 3-star rating until the final few scenes, which were simply unnecessary. Like… that drama did not need to happen at all. So, I really wanted to get into this, but there were near-constant roadblocks getting in the way.
Not a fan of the audio either, sorry! I listened to both Indigo Ridge and Juniper Hill on audio, and those were both so well done that I didn’t hesitate to dive into the audio for this one. The female narrator, Lucy Rivers, was fine – not a favorite, but fine. Lance Greenfield, on the other hand, was awful. His narration made Jasper feel like a caricature; a complete over-performance that made me dislike the audio immediately. Since the audio ended up releasing about a week before the ebook, I stuck with it longer than I would’ve liked – and finished the book up with the text version. If you can handle Greenfield’s voice, then the audio itself is well done. It’s also the perfect runtime for bingeing, though the high steam level/frequent spicy scenes don’t make it a good choice for a workday listen. I don’t really recommend the book as a whole, and I can’t give the audio my stamp of approval either.
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Devney Perry comes a small town, fake relationship romance.
Eloise Eden’s pride and joy is her family’s hotel in Quincy, Montana. Her lifelong dream is to own The Eloise Inn. All she has to do is prove to her parents that she’s the epitome of responsible. That her days of being duped and making reckless decisions are history. She’s so close she can taste it.
Until after one weekend in Las Vegas, she comes home married to a stranger.
Jasper must have put her under a spell with those soul-deep eyes because after a single night together, they woke up husband and wife. Her only hope is to keep this marriage a secret until it’s annulled. Then she’ll pretend it never happened.
Except Jasper begs her to stay married. To fake it for three months so she can accompany him to a wedding. Maybe she’s lost her mind to agree. But her brooding husband seems desperate. It’s only three months, right? Then she’ll say goodbye to Jasper Vale, and with any luck, hello to her new hotel.
Try Juniper Hill!
This series has been all over the place for me – I thought the first book was just okay, the second one I loved, the third I skipped entirely (even the blurb sounded disastrous), and the fourth was this one. So the only one I wholeheartedly recommend is Juniper Hill, which was great!
From USA Today bestselling author Devney Perry comes a small town, neighbors to lovers romance.
Memphis Ward arrives in Quincy, Montana, on the fifth worst day of her life. She needs a shower. She needs a snack. She needs some sanity. Because moving across the country with her newborn baby is by far the craziest thing she’s ever done.
But maybe it takes a little crazy to build a good life. If putting the past behind her requires a thousand miles and a new town, she’ll do it if it means a better future for her son. Even if it requires setting aside the glamour of her former life. Even if it requires working as a housekeeper at The Eloise Inn and living in an apartment above a garage.
It’s there, on the fifth worst day of her life, that she meets the handsomest man she’s ever laid eyes on. Knox Eden is a beautiful, sinful dream, a chef and her temporary landlord. With his sharp, stubbled jaw and tattooed arms, he’s raw and rugged and everything she’s never had—and never will. Because after the first worst day of her life, Memphis learned a good life requires giving up on her dreams too. And a man like Knox Eden will only ever be a dream.
Read the audiobook review here
About the Author:
Devney is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. Born and raised in Montana, she loves writing books set in her treasured home state. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her family. Writing one book, let alone many, was not something she ever expected to do. But now that she’s discovered her true passion for writing romance, she has no plans to ever stop.
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