Another great installment in the Red River series!
About the book:
Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…
Former surgeon and self-professed life-long bachelor Evan Manning has one thing on his mind—to reclaim the career that a car accident stole from him. But when he’s forced to return to his hometown of Red River, Evan comes face-to-face with the gorgeous woman who’s haunted his dreams for the last year—the woman he rescued from the burning car that injured his hand. Now Evan needs her help. In a month, he’ll have the job opportunity of a lifetime…he just needs a wife to get it. Artist Grace Matheson is down on her luck again…until she walks into Evan Manning’s office. When her sexy former hero hears that she needs work, he offers her a job and a home—if she’ll pretend she’s his fiancée. Grace knows she shouldn’t fall for him. Once the month is up, Evan will be back to his old life. But the more time they spend together, the more real their feelings become—and the more likely heartbreak is.
Reading the teaser blurb for this one at the end of The Best Man’s Baby, I knew I was going to have to read this one ASAP. But I was going to have to wait, of course…
And oh, Evan’s story was so worth the wait!
Sure, the inciting incident hinges on some pretty big coincidences (namely, Grace, trained as a medical receptionist, showing up at Evan’s office the day his other one quits), but hey, I can absolutely live with that. They served the purpose–to get Evan and Grace together–and the story was just a whole lot of fun to read, with characters it was so easy to root for.
(And fortunately, Mini Moe #2 was upstairs for most of it, sleeping off a cold so I didn’t have to keep explaining every time I laughed out loud, said, “Awwwww…”, or uttered any of the other involuntary noises of enjoyment I made while reading. Teenagers. Always so nosy. Not to mention critical, as they interrupt my reading time.)
Evan Manning is the classic “thinks he knows what he wants but he’s dead wrong” character. Unable to continue his career as a surgeon due to the accident, he’s all set to take over as CEO of a group of private plastic surgery clinics. First, though, he’s back in his hometown for one month, filling in for the man who inspired him to become a doctor in the first place. He’s only there marking time before moving on–he resents his chatty patients, wishes his brothers and sisters-in-law weren’t quite so busy-bodyish, and believes he is, as his father often told him, bigger than the small town he grew up in. He knows having a family isn’t for him, and the only kids he gets along with are his niece and nephew. (Contemplating his awkwardness around children, he reflects that, “Luckily for him, they [Ella and Michael] probably assumed his weirdness was due to the gene pool he shared with their fathers.” An LOL moment.) Nothing, he’s sure, could ever be more important to him than his job.
Oh, and then he thought those four words that are a death knoll to the singlehood of romance heroes everywhere. As he considered his plan to get Grace to agree to be his fake fiancee to better his chances at being hired on as Medcorp’s CEO, the words, “What could go wrong?” ran through his head.
Yep. They caused me to snort unattractively. Obviously he doesn’t read romance novels.
I loved the character of Grace. She’s funny and friendly and honest and always puts her son first. She volunteers at the places that have helped her in the past–like the shelter she and her mom stayed at–even though she herself is only a step or two above the women there whom she is helping. She ties her hair back with a Spider-Man shoelace and writes her very detailed daily “to do” lists in crayon. Heck, anyone who can refer to herself (referencing her curly auburn hair) as “[Ronald McDonald’s] older, crazier-looking, dark-haired sister” is going to be a favorite in my book.
Christopher was adorable, and had a tendency to steal the scene when he showed up. At times his conversation was a bit too adult to be believed, especially when he’d call Evan “Dr. Nevan” in the next sentence, but those parts were few and far between. Revealing all of his mother’s secrets, though? Totally spot-on. (And as a former preschool teacher, I can just guess what he was saying at school–poor Grace!)
The family relationships were some of the best parts of this novel–Evan and his brothers, Evan and his niece and nephew, Evan and his sisters-in-law, Grace and Christopher–their interactions were at times touching, sweet, and wickedly funny. (The conversation Evan and Quinn had about buying Jake a pink box of tissues? Another snort-laugh moment.) These scenes all rang true, and made it a joy to read.
And of course the romance was just so sweet and sigh-worthy. Until it isn’t. But then Evan eventually pulls his head out of his butt and figures out what he really wants–and sigh.
I read The Doctor’s Fake Fiancee in an afternoon–I couldn’t put it down! Victoria James is quickly becoming a must-read for me.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.