The Officer Says "I Do"
I love opposites-attract romances. I mean, what’s not to like? Hero and heroine are shaken from their pleasant, often slightly complacent lifestyles and attitudes, and are plunged into a new world. If well-written, like Jeanette Murray’s The Officer Says “I Do”, such a romance proves the power of love, and makes for a fun read.
A short time before their deployment to Afghanistan, Marine Captain Tim O’Shay and his two best mates are spending a weekend in Las Vegas. Challenged by his friends, the usually very sober Tim throws himself into drinking and gambling. When he encounters the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, he kisses her, proposes to her, gets married, and has the most passionate sex ever. The next morning, having forgotten everything about the marriage, he leaves without a word. Skye McDermott works as a restaurant manager in one of the big Vegas hotels. She feels the same incredible attraction that Tim does, and when he asks her to marry him, she instantly agrees. The daughter of hippies who grew up in a commune, Skye strongly believes in fate and that this is It. While she is hurt when Tim is gone the next morning (she had not realized how drunk he was), they are legally married after all and must resolve this situation. So she uses her connections at the hotel where he stayed and tracks him down to his base in California. Tim’s away when Skye arrives at his house, but his sister Madison opens to the door, and thus Tim finds out on the phone (while his comrades are happily listening in) that he is a married man and that his wife is awaiting him at his home.
Tim wants an instant divorce, but when he sees Skye again, he finds out that she’s basically a very nice person, and that the attraction between them is as strong as ever. Skye, on the other hand, wants to give the marriage a try. Besides believing in fate, she regards the pull between them as something that does not happen often in life, and as they are already married, they should at least try to find out whether it couldn’t grow into something strong and lasting. To his surprise, Tim agrees to a trial marriage – without sex at first.
To enjoy this romance, you must buy two premises: That a man who is completely drunk may not appear so at all and may still be able to have most satisfactory sex, and that a woman marries a stranger whom she has only met an hour or two before. Once you buy this, you are in for an enjoyable read.
Both Tim and Skye are lovely characters. Tim is not as stuffy as he seems at first (and as he believes himself to be!), and Skye has a strong practical streak that supports her in adapting into life as an officer’s wife on a Marine base. This way of life is described in realistic detail, which made the protagonists’ interaction very believable. I also like the fact very much that the difficulties that arise in their relationship are not about a Big Misunderstanding, but about the small misunderstandings and unspoken expectations that form part of the early stages of any relationship. The central issue that threatens Tim’s and Skye’s love is one that very common, but here it is told especially movingly.
Most of the secondary characters are a delight (especially both sets of parents!), and if some of them are obviously set up as heroes or heroines of future novels, I am looking forward to reading about them. There are two exceptions, though: The villains are so utterly mustache-twirling and clichéd that they are sometimes painful to read about.
There is another aspect of the novel that fell a bit short of the otherwise very high standard. While Jeanette Murray describes Tim and Skye and their different attitudes in every-day situations lovingly and convincingly, she mostly shies away from the big issues of religion and ethics. Overcoming differences in these fields is the biggest challenge for an opposites-attract romance, however, and so this felt a bit like a cop out.
In spite of these small caveats, I enjoyed The Officer Says “I Do” a lot. I intend to read the sequels and also check out the author’s other books. I am glad to have discovered a new author of contemporary romances for my autobuy-for-now list.