By Design is a light story that might be ideal when a person wants something simple to read, yet it’s not a book that will keep one turning the pages in anticipation. The characters are likable but also cardboard, and while the story is pleasant, it’s also common and predictable.
Lauren Hughes is a victim of a series of misfortunes where men are concerned. Not only did her father die when she was just a child, but her fiancé also passed on, leaving her rather bitter towards love. She needs no one and refuses to open her heart for fear of being destroyed once again. Instead, she focuses on her career and becomes a successful interior decorator. It is when Lauren comes across a list she made long ago that she realizes just what she is missing. Two tasks on that list remain to be completed before the 30th birthday that is just weeks away. For one, Lauren wants to travel the world. Easy enough, but it’s the second task that may prove a bit more difficult. Lauren has until her 30th birthday to find a man and get married.
Nicholas Randolph is an extremely attractive ex-football player who is now a successful lawyer and a man who can have his pick of lovely women to date. Yet, there is one woman whom he can’t seem to have: Lauren Hughes. Because of a misunderstanding, Lauren despises Nick, and there is pretty much nothing he can do about it, having tried every trick in the book to acquire her forgiveness. When Lauren’s best friend asks Nick to conspire to keep Lauren in the country, Nick cannot help but agree. After all, it means he will get to spend time with the woman. And so Nick hires Lauren to decorate his brownstone home.
Lauren does not like Nick, but she has no other option but to decorate his home. And so, letting bygones be bygones, she decides to forgive the man. Nick is too charming and good-looking for his own good and he will not let up on his outrageous flirtation with Lauren. Even though she forgives the man, she will not give into her desires since she’s determined not to lose her heart again. Still, the more time she spends with Nick, the more difficult it is to keep her attraction under check. And yet she wonders, why not give into temptation? After all, it doesn’t mean she will fall in love with him.
Nick has always been attracted to Lauren, but it is after spending time with her that he realizes that she just might be the ideal woman for him. But how does he prove this to her? Suddenly, Nick is ready to settle down and Lauren is the wife he wants. But Lauren, it seems, is not interested in settling down with Nick. She refuses to listen to reason and stands by her decision to travel the world, even after Nick admits his feelings. It’s obvious she is afraid of loving again. When she finds out that Nick has lied to her, Lauren’s trust for the man is extinguished. Can Lauren let go of her fears and will Nick stand by her or give up on the relationship?
There was not a whole lot happening in this book and I often found myself putting the novel down to do other things. The main premise is based on a simple misunderstanding. Once that misunderstanding is cleared up, it is Lauren’s fear that holds her love back, fear that tended to drag out the story. And, to be honest, the characters were a too flat for me to take their problems seriously. The whole book, in fact, was too formulaic for the reader to be surprised or intrigued by much of anything. It never really made sense to me as to why such a supposedly strong woman would care so much about getting married. Still, there were some sweet moments, and who doesn’t like to read about attractive, intelligent, athletic men?
If you want a book that’s easy to read on the bus or at the beach, a book that doesn’t require much attention, one that you will not have to become deeply involved with, then By Design may work for you. But if you’re looking for something a bit more unique and intriguing, you’ll need to look elsewhere.