Desert Isle Keeper
The Proposal is the sensational, charming, warm, sexy follow up to Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date. While this novel contains characters from that story, you do not need to read that book to absolutely, thoroughly enjoy this one. I speak from experience.
Nikole (Nik) Paterson is not enjoying spending the day at the ballpark while her boyfriend and his friends bond over warm beer, pretzels and sports – but it’s her man’s birthday and this is what he wanted. She’s vaguely wondering if their five-month relationship has run its course when he tells her to look at the score board. Tearing her eyes away from her phone, she glances up to see the words, “NICOLE: I LOVE YOU. WILL YOU MARRY ME?” When he drops down on one knee and proposes, her slack jawed mouth closes just enough to form the word no. As her boyfriend and his buddies stomp off, calling her various names as they depart, she finds herself the object of horrified, angry looks from the 45,000 other people attending the game.
Carlos Ibarra can’t help but admire the courage of the young woman two rows in front of him who has the gumption to turn down the proposal of the overly tan dude with the man bun. When he sees said young lady about to be mobbed by news station crews, he and his sister Angela rush to her rescue. Feigning a friendship they don’t have, they ooh and ahh over finding her on such an unlikely day and help her skedaddle out of the park. They give her a ride to a nearby bar, where Nik meets up with friends and invites the Ibarras to join her in a drink. They do, and Carlos is impressed all over again, this time with Nik’s wit and humor. But just after a girl has had a very public break up is not the time to hit on her.
Nik is impressed with Carlos as well. Not only is he handsome, he shows himself to be a kind, caring gentleman. When its clear she needs some alone time with her friends, he and Angela leave, but not before he covers the tab.
He figures the only other chance he’ll have to see her again is if he hangs out at the bar, hoping to catch sight of her. She figures this is the totally wrong time to get involved with another man. But one thank you email later and they’re sharing food and fun at a local Thai eatery. Funny texts and cupcake dates quickly follow. Before they know it, they’re seeing each other two or three times a week. It’s been said that a simple rule of dating is that rebound relationships never last but aren’t the rules meant to be broken?
Like Nik after the spontaneous proposal from a man who couldn’t even spell her name, I found myself speechless after finishing this book. Unlike Nik, my shock was from my overwhelmingly positive emotions. There was so much I loved about this novel I could easily write a top 100 list of reasons to buy it, but I will try to limit this review to the top five.
One thing the author gets all kinds of kudos for is the best depiction of an alpha female/beta male pairing I have ever seen in romance. EVER. Nik is strong, independent, and tough as nails. A lot of writers end up making alpha females as much of a jerk as her alpha male jerk counterpart but that doesn’t happen here. Nikole is a kind person who has good friends and a caring, compassionate heart. What makes her alpha is her take charge nature and that she knows the difference between someone asking for a favor and someone taking advantage. She’s always up for the former, she’s never down with the latter.
Just the right combination of open-hearted and savvy, Carlos is beta male perfection. He is willing to let others set the pace on most things but asserts himself when he needs to. He’s okay with being vulnerable to hurt in order to further a relationship along and isn’t afraid to do the heavy lifting in the romance department, but he doesn’t tolerate abuse. I loved everything about him; even his flaws and mistakes are endearing.
The characters, therefore, are perfect not in the sense that they don’t have flaws but that the author skillfully uses even those flaws to move her plot along and endear her creations to the reader. Another absolutely fabulous factor in this alpha-beta pairing is that Nik has a lot of back history with bad relationships. She’s had plenty of losers in her past but unlike many a romance alpha who uses that as an excuse to be cold, distant, untrusting, and unkind to everyone of the opposite sex whom they meet she is friendly, open and fun-loving with her dates. She gives relationships a chance and treats everyone with an open-minded fairness which is just so, so refreshing to see. I now want to go back through my reading history, grab by the hair every ‘wounded’ alpha who punished his new love for his exes’ mistakes, drag them to Nikole’s feet and say, “Learn from her!”.
And yet in spite of all this character perfection, the author is still able to find room for them to grow, become better and bring out the best in each other. Insert fan girl squeal here- that is so awesome! I love it when two great people become even better together.
The relationship building is out of this world fantastic and I just about swooned every time these two were together. I loved how fun their encounters are, how well they get along, how they are able to talk through simple problems and not make issues of them. Seriously, this is the best depiction I have seen of modern romance in a contemporary in a long, long time. Everyone wants the relationship these two have.
The secondary characters are handled beautifully. They lend the exact right amount of balance to the growing romance between Carlos and Nik and help add depth to them as individuals. Nik’s two gal pals know her, love her, support her and guide her. They help her laugh and when she gets lost, they help her find her way. Carlos’ family does the same for him. This is a bit odd to say, but I knew that if the two of them didn’t make it as a couple, they would be all right as individuals because their support networks are so awesome. Too many times the hero and heroine become so totally enmeshed that there is no room for them to stay individuals, but that isn’t the case here. They’re stronger together, better together but they’re fine as individuals, too.
Funny, warm and romantic The Proposal is a fantastic, not to be missed romance. I recommend it to anyone who loves – or even just likes – contemporary romance novels.