Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Fake Engagements (and real ones)

Ever since I got engaged I've been acutely sensitive to the subject of engagement and marriage in romance novels. Most novels deal with the early stages of a relationship--meeting, falling in lust/love, admitting love, and in the end promising to spend eternity together. But rarely do they address the actual engagement stage (though as one in a long engagement I think it would make a good story) or the marriage itself. And if they do address these topics it is in some ridiculous and silly fashion. And this leads me into my discussion of Shannon Stacey's Yours to Keep.

I really love this book despite myself. After my experience with Exclusively Yours I was a lot more willing to buy into the silly and contrived nature of Stacey's plot lines. Bring on the Kowalski madness! In this book, Sean Kowalski returns from the military to find that Emma Shaw, whom he has never met, has been pretending that he is her fiance. She explains that her grandmother worries about her, and so she told a white lie about having a man in her life and that lie escalated into a fake engagement. She talks Sean into moving in with her while her grandmother comes to visit so that they can convince her of Emma's happiness and security and thus ease her worry. Naturally, much hilarity ensues.

This is a light, happy sort of book. Emma and Sean are mismatched enough to make their relationship interesting, with enough heat between them to crank that interest up. The plot is infused with many moments of humor and corniness. Because of having to live together and maintain their ploy, Emma and Sean get a crash course in one another, learning more than most people do over months of dating. Emma's Gram is a sweet and sharp eyed character who added a lot to the story. There's even a bit of romance in it for her, which I really enjoyed.

So, yes the plot is contrived. Yes, it's silly. Yes, it's pretty predictable. But it does all of the things that a romantic comedy is supposed to do. It's warm, funny, mindless, and positive. Where Exclusively Yours bummed me out, this one left me feeling cheerful. 4.5 stars.

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