Once upon a time, ranching princess Veronica King was engaged to Clayton Rorick, the up-from-nothing second-in-command at her father’s company. But when she discovers that her father, who wants a male heir, had set lucrative terms for the son-in-law who marries her, Veronica ditches her wedding. When her father dies and leaves everything to Clayton, Veronica makes a deal: she’ll marry her ex-fiancé to save her financially distressed sisters and her mother’s charitable foundation. What she doesn’t know is that Clayton loves her and always has.
This book felt shorter than its 296 pages, possibly because so much of the sequence is standard: the heroine overhears a betrayal, the heroine starts over, the father dies, the will is read, the hero and the heroine meet to negotiate a response to the will, the hero does something bad in secret, the heroine finds out, etc. Clayton had a terrible and abusive father who, after a brain injury, has no recollection of that life and requires round-the-clock care, but that isn’t thoroughly developed. Veronica’s career as a financial planner for women could have created conflict with her irresponsible and insolvent sisters, but she simply accepts their behavior and expects herself to clean up after it by marrying Clayton.
Why haven’t I given this book a lower grade? Here’s the thing. We like what we like, and this book hits several of my soft spots: forced marriages, heroes secretly in love the with heroine, and contemporary romances about dynasties with scads of money. If you read those stories, you read them precisely because you expect a weird will or a hero who doesn’t clear things up by talking about his feelings.
Look at it this way: there are the best brownies you’ve ever had in your life, there are the awful burnt brownies full of rancid nuts you had to spit back out into a cocktail napkin, and then somewhere in the middle is your old standby, the box of Duncan Hines mix off the shelf. This book is that Duncan Hines brownie. It’s exactly what you expect, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.