Waking Up Married
Mira Lyn Kelly’s Waking Up Married is one of the titles in Harlequin’s short-lived Kiss line (which is published as Mills & Boon Modern Tempted in the UK). I’ve read a couple of the author’s more recent titles and enjoyed them – funny, sexy and sweet, they’re written with a secure but deft hand and boast attractive principals and a strong supporting cast. I went into this one hoping for more of the same and found it, for the most part, but the story as a whole is rather let down by the hero who spends most of the novel trying to persuade the heroine into doing something she isn’t sure she wants to do.
Megan Scott is in Vegas with a group of (very bitchy) girlfriends, and they’re out partying before being bridesmaids at the wedding of one of their number the next day. Megan has decided that she doesn’t want or need a man – she has never fallen in love with one and doesn’t think she is capable of it – instead, she intends to fulfil her desire for motherhood by a visit to the local sperm bank.
Connor Reed is surprised – in a good way – when the gorgeous woman he’d noticed earlier as he’d walked by her table approaches him and asks him if he’ll walk her out of the bar. Her friends have been egging her on all night, and she won’t hear the end of it if she leaves the bar alone. It’s an odd request, but he agrees, and he and Megan end up spending the next few hours together, during which they really do ‘click’; Megan tells Connor a bit about her seeming inability to fall in love, which she puts down to the fact that her mother has been married seven times (and had boyfriends in between) and having no desire to follow the path of falling in love and being repeatedly left. As the night progresses, Connor becomes more and more convinced that Megan wants the same things from life that he does. Of course, they take in more than a few more drinks along the way, which is how Megan ends up with her head stuck down the great white telephone the next morning with the hangover from hell – and discovers she’s now Mrs. Reed.
In the spirit of ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, she tells her new husband they made a horrendous mistake and that they should start divorce proceedings immediately – and is stunned when Connor tells her he wants their marriage to stand. Megan can’t believe what she’s hearing, but Connor persuades her to hear him out over breakfast. From what Megan told him the previous night, it seems she wants the same things from a relationship that he does:
“All the vital components that make a relationship successful, without any of the emotional messiness to drag it down. It’s about respect, caring and commitment. Shared goals and compatible priorities. It’s about treating a marriage like a partnership instead of some romantic fantasy. It’s about two people liking each other.”
– and he’s one hundred percent there for that sort of marriage.
Even though Megan has decided she’s probably never going to find ‘the one’, a marriage like the one Connor is suggesting sounds terribly calculating, and she’s not sure it’s what she wants for the rest of her life. But she agrees to a three month trial – although with no sex allowed – and moves into Connor’s house.
One of the things I liked straight away about Waking Up Married is that the ‘Oh no – we got drunk, got married and must get a divorce as quickly as possible’ trope doesn’t quite pan out that way, because while Megan and Connor did get married while drunk, Connor knew exactly what they were doing when they walked down the aisle. The trouble is though, that I wasn’t wild about the idea that he was aware of what they were doing while Megan wasn’t; she can’t even remember saying her vows, or much of what Connor told her the previous night. And while Connor is devastatingly handsome and extremely charming, he’s also incredibly manipulative; for the majority of the book, he’s doing his damnedest to convince Megan that what he wants is what she wants, too, which he does by being Mr. Reasonable and Mr. Unflappable, even when Megan tries everything she can think of to rile him or get him to give up – which seemed a bit mean considering she had actually agreed to give him and their marriage a chance to work out. Neither of them covers themselves in glory here, but fortunately, this stalemate isn’t allowed to continue and things start to look up – until Connor turns into an idiot not far from the end and only manages to turn things around in the last page or two.
Waking Up Married was enjoyable – but ultimately forgettable – fluff. I liked both protagonists, and the way Connor was so clueless as to the real state of his feelings about Megan was oddly sweet; he’s a nice blend of alpha and beta hero, a man who wants to protect and support his woman while also applauding her desire for independence. On the downside, her being independent means less aggro for him and none of those nasty romantic luuurve cooties, so it’s not an entirely altruistic trait. Ms. Kelly opts to give both characters a backstory that explains their reluctance to pursue love, but it’s very sketchy and could perhaps have been a little more developed; and I also have to admit that I wasn’t always comfortable with Connor’s more manipulative side.
I can’t recommend Waking Up Married without reservations, but if you enjoy rom-coms and are looking for an afternoon quickie (!), it might hit the spot.