As you might guess from the title, Makeshift Marriage is a marriage of convenience story. The writing is competent and the story is sometimes interesting, but when you come down to it, it’s pretty much like every other marriage of convenience story you’ve already read. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing to distinguish it from the pack either.
The night before Stefanie Varney’s wedding, she receives a letter from the groom telling her he has run off with her maid of honor, Noelle. It’s a pretty low blow, but all Stefanie feels is a strange detachment. That same night, Noelle’s fiancé, Quinn, shows up at her door. He’s spitting mad, and hoping that Stefanie can tell him where to find the errant couple. Not only did Quinn fancy himself in love with Noelle; he is also competing for a job that would require him to be married. By ditching him, Noelle has hurt his pride and possibly his career.
Stefanie is unable to help him that night, but she soon leaves her small New Zealand town and goes to Auckland, where she plans to find a job and escape the gossip and pitying stares. She runs into Quinn in a restaurant, and they get to talking. Quinn tells Stefanie about his job prospect, which involves a small island nation in the Pacific called Busiata. The king of Busiata wants to establish his country as an Internet domain so that he can attract businesses with URLs that end in “.bu.” Unfortunately, Busiata is very religious, and they fear that an unmarried man on the island will wreak havoc with the unmarried females.
I bet you can guess everything that’s coming. Quinn asks Stefanie to be his wife in name only so he can get the job. Stefanie accepts, figuring she needs a change of scene anyway. And off they go to Busiata where they live together, try to fight their mutual attraction, give in, and make their marriage a real one. There are other things going on (Stefanie helps organize Busiata’s historical documents, for example), but mostly it is strictly formula.
If you read and enjoy a lot of series romances, you may be more likely to appreciate this story. It’s certainly a quick read, and the characters are likable, if a little bland. And it is nice to see the Internet (which is a big part of my life, and probably yours too if you are reading this review) making inroads into romance novels. I noticed another series out this month called The Sheriff and the E-Mail Bride, so perhaps this is a growing trend.
But while there is little that is truly objectionable in Makeshift Marriage, it is very formulaic and predictable. I would like to have been surprised at least once during the course of this novel, but nothing ever happened that I couldn’t have predicted from page one. The hero and heroine married, grew fond of each other, and mated right on cue. And though they did have some romantic conversations, their final love scene goes way over the top in its use of metaphor:
“Only seconds later they plunged into the golden fire together, consumed in each other for endless time, wave after wave of incandescent heat racking them until the last echoing shudders gradually, inevitably subsided.”
I don’t know about you, but the image that popped into my mind was that of a Hindu suttee, hardly what the author had in mind.
Overall, Makeshift Marriage is pleasant and predictable. If you can’t get enough of marriage of convenience stories, you’ll probably enjoy it. But be forewarned: you’ve probably read lots of books like this before.