I have mixed feelings about Marriage of Inconvenience, and I say this as a huge Penny Reid fan. I am a reader who waited a long time for Kat & Dan’s story, and so the anticipation probably affected my view of the book. I did like it, and I think the reason for my enjoyment largely boils down to Dan. He is such a great character. I do agree though with stl-reader that Reid’s heroines are somewhat interchangeable. I consider them self-deprecating and socially awkward. My two favorite heroines though, Marie and Fiona, do not seem interchangeable or fall into the self-deprecating/awkward role. But for many others, I find them harder to differentiate. Kat from MoI lacked some character development and I struggled to visualize her. Plus, she is different in this book than the shy wallflower from the series, and that annoyed me a bit. Reid creates incredible heroes though and so many of them are just my favorite male characters in romance writing.
I did like the romance in MoI but I thought that the story got weighted down with too many obstacles and themes and ideas. It’s a big, sprawling book that could have benefited from tighter organization. I wish the theme of Kat’s self-esteem could have been the main idea outside of the romance. The addition of a venal cousin trying to institutionalize her took the story into a strange new direction. Then, Dan’s brother and his former gang activities came into play. Then there is the issue of mental health and schizophrenia and Kat’s mother’s health and Kat’s fears of becoming her mother. Then there is the marriage itself and the fake relationship issue to sort through..
There are two inconsistencies that bother me about this book and I am still pondering them. One is the issue of polyamory, which seemed added on to this book to explain Dan’s abandonment of Kat in Vegas. I always assumed he left her hotel room because he thought she was telling him she wasn’t into a relationship with him, and that belief hurt him. By allowing the story to become one about polyamory, I felt it shifted the book away too much from Kat’s negative self-esteem. Also, instead of focusing on Kat’s negative self-esteem, the book then becomes about Kat’s sexual dysfunction and reliance upon drugs and alcohol to be sexual. I never really did get this issue for her or why she felt unable to enjoy sex. Finally. and this is a big one for me — Dan is unable to understand his feelings for Kat and calls them a “shitty feeling in his chest.” That seemed unlikely for him. Of all the male characters Reid has created, Dan O’Malley struck me as completely besotted with Kat and self-aware. But when the time comes to share feelings, he’s suddenly unsure? I still have trouble with this issue.
Having said all of that, I read the book quickly and enjoyed and have come back to scenes since to reread. I adore Dating-ish and a couple of others from the Knitting series. I like the Winstons, though perhaps just slightly less, except Beard Science, which is just so wonderfully weird and amazing.