As you may have guessed from the title, this is one of those books where there is a “forced marriage” setup: the hero and heroine, who come from two families that have despised each other for ages, are forced to marry by a judge, in hopes that if the two leaders of the families can get along (or at least pretend to), the rest of the families may take a cue and start behaving.
In the ill-named town of Serenity, attorneys Prudence Randolph and Brice McCormack can’t stop fighting, not even in front of the judge presiding over yet another incident between the Randolph and McCormack families. Even though they are fighting, Pru and Brice can’t stop noticing each other’s trim and toned parts. The judge determines that Prudence and Brice must get married in three days’ time, in order to bring some peace and lead by example. Although Pru and Brice are horrified, soon enough they accept this, never mind the legality of such a decision by the judge, who has also stated that if they don’t marry, he will be harsher in dealing with the next Randolph or McCormack who comes in for fighting. This would not have been a bad idea, to actually hold these foolish people responsible for their actions, instead of “sacrificing” Pru and Brice. But I digress.
The wedding nearly becomes a brawl and when the families go drinking after the ceremony, well, let’s just say that newlyweds Pru and Brice have to slip on their attorneys’ caps again because of their childish relatives’ behavior. Soon enough, however, Pru and Brice have taken their new married status to heart and are devoted to one another, which unfortunately, still doesn’t do away with their silly behavior, most of which is Pru’s. When Pru ends up falling into some cow dung (don’t ask) what does she do? Strip most of her clothes off in front of Brice. When Pru finds long-lost information that can potentially send the feud into overdrive, what does she do? Talk about it to the one sensible person in the story? No, she gives the information to one of her hothead relatives and then gets mad when Brice gets mad at her for betraying him. Even at the end of the book, Pru tells a room full of people that she’s sick of the fighting and is leaving Serenity, but of course, there’s something else she says that she should have told Brice in private before making her announcement.
I’ve liked funny books before, I’ve liked silly books before, I’ve liked books where disbelief was plenty suspended, but I just couldn’t get the humor in Court Appointed Marriage. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered so many similes in my life. The hero and heroine are attorneys a la Ally McBeal-on-acid: shrill, childish and with two-track minds, fighting and lusting. This got old very, very quickly, and the supposed character growth that the pair goes through didn’t ring true – not with them and everyone else acting stupid and childish until the end.
It was a struggle for me to finish this book. Even though I’m a fast reader and this was a category-length story, and I cannot recommend anything about it.