Marrying Owen is the first book in the Bachelors Inc. trilogy. It had me charmed and delighted all through it until the last chapter when a plot twist came out of nowhere, based not on character but solely to create conflict and advance the story. But after I closed it, the charming parts were the ones that stuck in my memory and I wanted to read the forthcoming books in the series. I figure that’s the mark of a better than average book, even if it’s only just better than average.
The prologue is dated 1974 and introduces three friends; Owen Thomas, Ben Gordon and Zack Taylor who are all 10 years old and have just formed the GAG (Girls are Gross) club. Owen goes along with his buddies, but it looks like his membership might not last long. Abby Maconnal has moved in next door and she and Owen both think the other is really cool.
Move to present time. The three former friends have all moved back to their home town on the Chesapeake Bay and formed a business partnership. Owen is an architect, Ben is a contractor and Zack is a carpenter. They plan to renovate the beautiful old homes and businesses in the area and since they are all divorced or never married, they dub their new firm Bachelors, Inc. We find out that Owen and Abby had married but have been divorced for a couple of years, and Owen bought and lives in Abby’s parent’s old home.
Abby plans to move to Myrtle Beach, but wants to stop by Owen’s home to pick up some things she stored there. When she drops by, it’s apparent that the attraction between them is very much alive. Evidently Mother Nature agrees because things begin to happen to keep Abby and Owen together.
A hurricane hits the town and closes the roads, stranding Abby with Owen. Abby then gets strep throat and a bad rash, and passes along her strep to Owen. As the story progresses, we find out why their marriage broke up. Owen was obsessed with making it in his architectural firm. He chased money and possessions and power with such single-mindedness that Abby was left by the wayside. There was no other woman, no cruelty, no drinking, no Big Misunderstanding – nothing but a lack of communication and attention till Abby could not stand it any more and left.
With time comes wisdom and now that she is in his home, Owen knows that he loved Abby when they were kids, he loved her when they were married, and he loves her now. If only he can convince her before the weather clears up and they recover from various accidents and illnesses.
Marrying Owen is delightful. Not only are Abby and Owen two thoroughly lovable characters, but Faulkner puts them in a beautiful setting and surrounds them with family and friends who are every bit as lovable as the hero and heroine. While the focus is mostly on Owen and Abby, they do not exist in a vacuum; they get out and interact with friends and family. Owen’s friends do not particularly like the idea of him seeing Abby again since they know how much the divorce hurt him. The one exception is 77-year-old Max Gordon, a widower who loved his own wife deeply and knows both Abby and Max. Max can see the real dynamics of the relationship, and his insight and advice is something Owen takes seriously.
The one small fly in the oinment comes toward the last chapter when romance novelitis strikes – a character behaves out of character and a conflict is created seemingly for dramatic purposes only. Luckily, this doesn’t last long, but it was unnecessary and frustrating.
Despite this one problem, I enjoyed Marrying Owen. Charm is very hard to define, but I know it when I read it and this was one charming book. The next titles in the series are Tempting Zack and Taming Ben, I will be sure to read them.