Grayson's Vow
Grade : C

I’m usually not a big fan of marriage of convenience stories. Unless there is a very, very good reason given as to why the two participants in the scheme can’t be together for real, I end up shaking my head much of the time, over the drama that plays out when the couple falls in love - of course - and then torment themselves over not being able to be together forever. Grayson’s Vow by Mia Sheridan offers some of that eye-roll inducing manufactured angst, but that’s not really the reason for my middling grade.

Kira Dollaire, the daughter of a rich and powerful political player, has determined to fully break away from her cruel, manipulative father. Her beloved Gram has left her a decently-sized trust, but in order to gain access to it, Kira must marry. Enter Grayson Hawthorne, the owner of a local vineyard in dire need of funds to get it back up and running again. Before talking herself out of her crazy scheme, Kira approaches Grayson with a deal. If he agrees to marry her - in name only - she will give him half of her inheritance. After a year of marriage, they can divorce and go about their individual lives, no harm, no foul.

At first, Grayson thinks Kira is some kind of schemer. From his limited research, she appears to be just another spoiled socialite who’s been kicked off her daddy’s money supply, possibly because of involvement with drugs. No doubt she plans to marry him to get access to her trust fund and then she’ll disappear with the entire amount, leaving him high and dry. But Grayson can’t harvest this season’s crops without repairing equipment and hiring a crew, something he needs money to do. With no other options, he agrees to marry Kira, but he certainly doesn’t trust her and barely manages to conceal his open contempt.

The two arrange to get married, Kira moves to the Hawthorne estate, and they manage to suss each other out over their first few weeks as husband and wife. Both quickly learn that they’ve each suffered greatly at the hands of cruel parents, and both see themselves as unworthy of love. But they can’t deny their growing attraction to each other, and before long, they wonder if they can turn this sham marriage into a real one.

Up until this point, my issues with Grayson’s Vow were minor. As I’d expected, the usual amount of built-in-end-date causing unnecessary angst made me shake my head. There is absolutely no reason given that Kira and Grayson can’t be together forever if/when they find themselves in love and desiring an authentic relationship. I wasn’t a big fan of the cutesy personas they’d foisted on each other - him labeling her a witch and her calling him a dragon - but I could have dealt with it.

But then comes the Big Misunderstanding. Before Kira enters his life, Grayson had spent time in prison after accidentally killing a man during a fight. The details of his incarceration come out eventually, but they aren’t as crucial as the fact that Kira’s father and her no-good-fiancé played a part in Grayson’s prison sentence, which was somewhat extreme given the nature of his crime. Naturally, when this information eventually reaches Grayson, his reaction is not only over the top, it’s absurd. The way he treats Kira is borderline unforgivable. For some inexplicable reason, Kira feels responsible for things that had nothing to do with her and accepts the blame that Grayson heaps on her.

Then again, as a character, Kira is a bit of a Mary Sue. Despite her dreadful upbringing, she wants only to help others less fortunate than herself. She plans to give most of her half of her inheritance to a homeless shelter. When she ran away from home, it was to build hospitals in Africa. Even her plan to access her trust via a sham marriage is extremely generous, given that Grayson will get half of the money she could definitely use herself. And she put up with Grayson’s cruelty then risked everything in order to help rectify the damage her father and fiancé had wrought as if it were her fault. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her. It was simply that I didn’t believe that she could exist.

One thing I didn’t understand is the hand wringing that Grayson and Kira endure over the prospect of marrying for money. They make it clear up front that this is a business arrangement with a built-in end date. Both of them will benefit equally, and no one is being exploited in any way. They aren’t betraying partners that they truly love and are emotionally unencumbered. For some reason, however, they each fret over making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage and think poorly of themselves for marrying without love. I wanted to point out to them that for centuries, marriages were business, political, and/or military alliances having little to do with love. And it isn’t as if this is a forever deal. Perhaps I’m a cynic, but Kira’s plan made very logical sense to me.

I’ve always loved Mia Sheridan as a writer (see my reviews for Archer’s Voice and Most of All You), and Grayson’s Vow contains her trademark damaged hero and heroine. But where the other two books do a great job of showing how the couple help heal each other and teach each other to love and to trust, this one misses the mark a bit.

Too, while the cruelties that Kira and Gray suffer at the hands of their parents aren’t nearly as dark as some of those Sheridan’s other characters have endured, this is clearly a hallmark of hers. You need to be prepared from some stomach-churning actions perpetrated against Grayson especially.

Grayson’s Vow is well written but, in the end, a bit frustrating. Not my favorite of Mia Sheridan’s, to be sure.

Reviewed by Jenna Harper
Grade : C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 6, 2023

Publication Date: 07/2023

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Jenna Harper

I'm a city-fied suburban hockey mom who owns more books than I will probably ever manage to read in my lifetime, but I'm determined to try.
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