Desert Isle Keeper
Do You Take This Man
It was the synopsis of Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams that prompted me to pick it up, as well as the author herself, of whom I’d heard good things but hadn’t yet had a chance to read. The set-up is quite a fun one – a female divorce lawyer who moonlights as a wedding officiant embarks on a mutually agreeable frenemies with benefits relationship with the male wedding planner with whom she butts heads. Based on these first impressions I had high hopes for this one, and it definitely met them.
Lear Campbell was an event planner for a California football team before a personal crisis redirected him across the country and into a new career as an assistant wedding planner for his cousin Penny. On his first day of work he collides with a woman in a hurry, a bruising encounter that leaves them both irritated and now late for their respective events, which, of course, happen to be in the same place and are in fact the same event, a wedding rehearsal.
RJ Brooks is a divorce attorney by trade, and a damn good one too. When her best friend Britta asked her to perform her upcoming wedding ceremony, RJ got her license but had no intentions of making it public. Yet that’s just what happens when she finds herself officiating a wedding between two movie superstars following a spontaneous wedding proposal in a park, one that gets filmed and posted online and suddenly she’s the one everyone wants as their officiant. It’s a lucrative side job, especially since her older divorce clients often have children who are looking to get married themselves. But it’s not going to divert her from her career goal. And it certainly isn’t because she believes in love. She can pretend as well as anyone, but having been abandoned by her father, ghosted by her best male friend in high school, and endured a recent breakup with a man who never appreciated her or saw beyond her cool outer shell, she’s got no illusions about romance.
It’s not just Penny that connects Lear and RJ. Lear also happens to be a friend of Gretchen, RJ’s mentor, at the law firm. Lear’s relationship with Gretchen makes things even worse as far as RJ is concerned, as pissing off Gretchen won’t bode well for her career aspirations. When Penny and her wife Kelly get a sudden call regarding a baby for adoption, Penny leaves Lear to handle some upcoming weddings on his own, with RJ as the officiant. They have different styles with people, they clash constantly, and yet somehow, there is a sizzle of attraction that just keeps getting stronger and stronger. It leads to the inevitable, a sizzling secret affair with no expectations on either side. Until real feelings start to come into play and RJ has to decide if she’s willing to let down her walls and let love in.
I enjoyed many aspects of this story. The uniqueness of having a male wedding planner was a nice change from the stereotypical female role, and I loved that RJ, despite seeing mostly the ugliness of divorce, isn’t completely able to turn off her romantic side, even if it’s hidden under a pretty thick shell. As Lear and RJ spend time together and get to know each other, the antagonism that defines the start of their relationship gets put behind them. Their personalities don’t change – as a Black woman, RJ has to do more to overcome obstacles and this has made her appear cold on the outside and she still sometimes retreats behind that shield. But with Lear, she can start to relax and open up, and he’s able to see the wonderful, thoughtful, loyal woman that she really is as she interacts with her friends and family. And Lear, coming off a painful breakup with some deep emotional scars, is able to own up to his mistakes with RJ, apologize for his missteps, and open up his own heart to caring again. I just loved seeing them take these tentative steps towards each other emotionally, even though they both pretend it’s all about the sex and the challenge of one-upping each other.
Additionally, the author is excellent at writing friendships and family relationships that resonate with the reader because they feel true to life. RJ’s best friends Britta and Kat know her inside and out and are excellent sounding boards as she tries to sort out her feelings. They aren’t afraid to point out (with love) her faults and gently push her to realize what she really wants to have with Lear. And Lear’s sister Caitlin is a positive influence on his life, as is his quiet uncle Harold, who in his own gentle way, is able to tease out Lear’s complicated feelings about RJ.
There are lots of funny moments, witty banter, and steamy love scenes to round out this contemporary romance which gives this wonderful couple their well deserved happy ending. I’m looking forward to catching up on Ms. William’s backlist!
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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.