The Marriage Charm
I’m not a huge fan of any story that has to do with a commitment-phobic character. They always seem to dance around the issue of love (which is at the heart of every romance novel) and too often this drags out the book for another superfluous fifty pages or so. Reading The Marriage Charm was the first time I’ve found myself annoyed by a commitment-phobic man running toward marriage.
Spencer “Spence” Hogan (yes, that’s how he’s introduced. I’m not sure why simply saying “Spence Hogan” was unacceptable) is the sheriff and eternal bachelor of Mustang Creek, Wyoming. His father ran out on his mom when he was a young boy—an event that his mother never got past—and since then the idea of marriage and a fully committed relationship holds no appeal for him. He’s fine with other people marrying—in fact, the book begins with his best friend Tripp Galloway getting married—but he could never bear to settle down himself. In fact, that’s why he and Melody Nolan broke up nine years ago.
Melody, of course, has never forgotten Spence, the great love of her life. She’s done her best to avoid him in the nine years since they were together, but they run in the same circles, and eventually find themselves part of the same wedding party when Mel’s friend Hadleigh marries Spence’s friend Tripp. That wedding sets a whole lot into motion—it’s the first step in “the marriage pact” established by Melody and her two best friends, and it’s enough to make Melody long for a man of her own.
Which is, of course, where Spence comes in. He graciously drives his old friend Mel home from the wedding reception, and with that small gesture begins a courtship. Not officially, and not in a way that’s well received by Melody (the poor girl is rather hesitant to trust him after their awful breakup), but it’s a courtship nonetheless. One that progresses with trail rides, dinner dates, and the obligatory bout of male protectiveness when her house is broken into. All very classic moves.
Are you starting to wonder when Spence will freak out as he senses the approaching end of his bachelor days? I was. I waited and waited for the freak-out, and then….nothing. They get engaged. Although actually, before they even decide they’re in a serious relationship, Spence and Melody agree to have children together.
“Do you want kids?”
She heard an inner voice screaming, Where the hell did that come from? two seconds after she opened her big mouth. She hadn’t seen it coming. Maybe it was because of Hadleigh’s possible pregnancy, maybe it was the robbery, but it all resulted in a desperate need to get her life in focus.
Spence looked down at his glass of wine and then at her. His blue eyes were direct. “Yep.”
Based on that discussion (and that is literally their entire discussion on the subject) the two go on to have unprotected sex and happily contemplate the concept of pregnancy. This would be preposterous and irresponsible in any situation, but the fact that Spence has professed himself to be completely against commitment and yet is fully in favor of having a baby makes it beyond ridiculous.
So overall? Melody was bland, and Spence couldn’t live up to his title of commitment-phobic sheriff. If he hadn’t been so vocal in his opinions against the institution of marriage, and if it hadn’t been for the baby discussion, I might have given this a C+. I’m sad to give a decent author a bad grade, but I just couldn’t ignore the problems I found in The Marriage Charm.