The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiance
by Victoria James
Series: Shadow Creek, Montana Series
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Bliss
Publication Date: September 10, 2018
Leaving Shadow Creek nine years ago was the hardest thing Molly Mayberry’s ever had to do…except maybe returning. She’s never regretted her choice, but a chance of a lifetime position at the local hospital means going home and facing her past, including her shrew of an estranged mother and the fiancé she ran out on. Ben Matthews is still the sexy, sweet man she left behind…and apparently still her fiancé.
Ben has been doggedly pursuing the position of fire chief since he was a teenager. There’s just one problem—he has to show his boss he’s ready to settle down. No matter how silly the condition, Ben will make it happen. And apparently so will his brother when he opens his mouth and decides to tell everyone Ben and Molly are engaged. Now the one woman he never stopped loving is living with him in a fake relationship, driving him crazy. Pretending only reminds him how right they were once, but if Ben gives in to the heat building between them, heartache is sure to follow.
Each book in the Shadow Creek, Montana series is STANDALONE
* Christmas with the Sheriff
* The Baby Bombshell
* The Doctor’s Redemption
* Baby on the Bad Boy’s Doorstep
* The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiance
Molly Mayberry knew she was living her best life.
She was twenty and had just completed her second year of med school. Some called her a genius, but she had always just thought of herself as a hard worker. She’d finished high school by the time she was fifteen and had completed her undergrad by eighteen. Not having a social life helped—except this summer, everything had changed for her. She had met a guy—no, a man—who saw her for more than just some weird, smart girl; he got her on every level.
She was going to marry Ben Matthews. They were going to have two or three children. They were going to buy a ranch house with a view of the mountains. They would raise their family in Shadow Creek, Montana, because it was idyllic, filled with old-school, American values. People greeted each other on the sidewalk, helped a neighbor in need, and believed in community.
Ben and Molly were destined to live happily ever after.
She tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear and waved to Ben when she spotted him entering the fairgrounds. He was pretty easy to spot, with his height and athletic build. He was one of the town sweethearts. Their small town did like to play favorites, and he and his brother, Finn, were amongst them. Their father was the local fire chief, and both boys were following in their father’s footsteps. That seemed to add to their appeal. She knew full well that half the single female population thought of Ben and Finn as the hottest catches for miles around. She had to agree. But for some reason, gorgeous, sweet, fearless, Ben had sought her out. Though they had only been dating for three months while she was home for the summer, she knew he was her soul mate.
“Hi beautiful,” he said, shooting her that grin that made her giddy and kept her smiling as she fell asleep at night. He leaned down to give her a kiss that was respectable enough for a public display, but hinted at what she knew would come later, in private.
“Hi,” she said, still holding on to him.
He took her hand and they started walking amongst the crowds where all the food vendors had lined up alongside booths with various craft items and local artisan products. They spent the day holding hands and walking and talking and eating. He shared his pumpkin pie, and she shared her fries and gravy. He won her a giant stuffed bear at the ring toss, and they kissed on the Ferris wheel as dusk settled and enveloped them, making everything surreal.
Molly had always wanted to go to the Harvest Festival Twilight Dance, and this would be her first time attending. After many wardrobe changes, with her sisters’ approval, she’d finally settled on a navy sundress with a cropped matching cardigan and sandals. She was pretty sure Ben, who was three years older than her, had attended the dance many times before, but she wasn’t worried or insecure. He made her feel like she was the only woman in the world. He pulled her close on the makeshift dancefloor, under the umbrella of twinkling white lights and starlit sky. He smelled crisp and clean with a hint of citrus. He led them to the corner where they were partially shielded by a grouping of aspen on the outskirts of the grounds.
The teasing sparkle that she was used to seeing in his eyes changed, and he looked serious as he raised his hands to frame her face. She tried not to audibly sigh out loud. She was vaguely aware that she was naive and inexperienced compared to him, but he never made her feel that way. He made her feel like they were both incredibly in awe of each other, of this special love they’d found.
“I knew the minute you spilled your coffee on the front of my shirt outside of the library that you were special. I knew by the end of our first date that I loved you. And I know now that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know you still have years left of school, and I’m not working full time yet, but I’m yours, if you’ll have me. I haven’t got a ring yet because I want to save enough to get you the one you deserve to have. So I guess what I’m asking is—”
She didn’t wait for him to finish. She jumped into his arms and said yes. She said yes to whatever he was offering because she felt the same way. They were young, and they had their whole lives ahead of them.
He spun her around, and they laughed and kissed.
She held on to him like they would have a thousand tomorrows.
She held on to him with the belief that life would play out exactly as they wanted, like their sheltered world could protect them from the gut-wrenching heartache that the real world could lash out, without any warning.
Molly held on to Ben that night, certain nothing could ever tear them apart, certain that love could conquer all, and that the good guys always won.
The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee is a sweet, second-chance, fake relationship romance set in Ms. James’s fictional (unfortunately!) town of Shadow Creek, Montana. Molly’s back in her hometown after nine years away–she never intended to come back, but a one-year career opportunity came up that she can’t say no to–and her first love and guy she unceremoniously dumped nine years ago is not only still there (and a hot fireman to boot) but he conveniently needs to appear “settled” to get a promotion.
Obviously, a fake relationship is the way to go, right? Nothing could go awry there… 😉
Though Molly and Ben were great characters and wonderful together–once they let themselves be together, that is–I have to say that my favorite relationship in the whole book is Ben and Finn’s. Nothing made me LOL as much as when those two were on the page together…heck, Finn didn’t even have to be there in person, because sometimes Ben just thinking about him (okay, what he was going to do to him when they were together again) was enough.
My only complaints here are with the resolution–things get resolved really, really quickly in the end, and it doesn’t seem like quite enough, somehow–and the fact that Molly’s mother is so unrepentantly horrible. Maybe she’ll come of better in future books…? But here we’re left pretty unresolved as far as she is considered. Still, a reason to keep reading! (As if I need one… ;))
Though this is the fifth book in the series, it would work just fine as a standalone–several past series characters make (very brief) appearances here, but you don’t need to be familiar with their stories at all to enjoy this one. Molly has two single sisters, though, and Ben an unattached brother, so…
(Not even a subtle hint, I know. I am not ashamed.)
I’m really looking forward to Finn (here I’m giving the author some serious side-eye for that epilogue, because that was just not right–it had better be fixed soon), Addie, and Melody’s stories!
Rating: 4 stars / B
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Victoria James:
VICTORIA JAMES is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.
In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.
Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she’s quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.
Sign up for Victoria’s Newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases and exclusive giveaways, follow her blog for daily antics and insight into her daily life, and get to know her on twitter and Facebook. She loves hearing from readers!
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of THE FIREFIGHTER’S PRETEND FIANCE by Victoria James, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 9/14/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!