The Engagement Arrangement
Jaci Burton’s The Engagement Arrangement is a fun, spicy western. Though it doesn’t reach the heights of the author’s firefighter or sports romances, it’s still a hoot of a good time.
Finn Nolan is Irish to the core – but unlucky in love. Working on the Bellini family vineyard as a kind of adopted son, he’s always had his eyes and ears trained on Brenna, the family’s middle daughter, and the girl he’s been crushing on since he was eighteen. Brenna’s never noticed him that way, but he’d love to get her to go out with him.
Workaholic Brenna is done with relationships after a disastrous divorce, but she’s thrilled when her close friend announces she’s going to be married and wants Brenna in the wedding party. Brenna takes up the task of planning the wedding, but soon learns that due to unexpected circumstances not only will her ex-husband, Mitchell, be at the event, but so will her high school rival, Allison – and that would be because Allison and Mitchell are now together, and Allison will be the matron of honor. The idea of being single around the two of them is an appalling prospect, and to avoid that fate Brenna turns to Finn and begs him to pose as her fiancé for the wedding week.
It’s all supposed to be for show and end once the wedding is over, but naturally Finn can’t resist the prospect of trying to make Brenna truly his. He buys her a ring. They do public PDA. Dates lead to kisses, which lead to a whole lot more. Will Brenna break her vow of no more romance for Finn?
The Engagement Arrangement is lighthearted, sexy and filled with the occasional touch of sturm and drang. Brenna is not over what happened during her lousy marriage, and Finn’s hopeless pining occasionally feels like it’ll be a forever-thing, but eventually they work it out. Emphasis on eventually.
Brenna does do a lot of emotional ping-ponging, which was particularly annoying, and her stubbornness is going to irk a lot of readers. I loved her dogged independence, but her maturity level is kind of wibbly-wobbly. But who wouldn’t love romantic, big-souled Finn and his huge love for Brenna? He really solidified the book’s grade for me. Their romance blows hot and cold and sometimes I thought he deserved better, but eventually Brenna comes around.
For fans of The Best Man Plan, the previous book in the series, the rest of Brenna’s Italian family pops up again; her sister Erin and Erin’s now-husband Jason from book one, and her baby sister Honor. Owen, Erin’s cancer-stricken ex-fiancé reappears as the series makes its way toward the its final volume. Burton’s California vineyard setting works very well and the warmth of her characters continues to make her books stand-out.
If you’re a Jaci Burton fan, you might enjoy seeing her work with cowpokes, and her spicy couple makes the ride worthwhile. For fans of western romance in general, The Engagement Arrangement is also bound to please.