I was looking for a fun, light contemporary, and Hired Bride seemed just the thing. It had a quirky Southern matriarch, a dilapidated house – complete with taxidermy, and a marriage of convenience. I was all in.
Deanna Beaufort works as a receptionist, barely making enough to get by and allow her sister to stay in college without working (although why that seems like a good idea is never explained). Despite having a long family history in Savannah, Georgia, which seems to indicate that they were once moneyed, they’ve fallen on hard times. Her grandmother thinks the way out of this is to marry her granddaughters to wealthy men.
And there was my first stumbling block. If I was supposed to like the grandmother, her delusion that Deanna would be happy with someone she didn’t even like, simply because he had money, precluded her being at all sympathetic. The collection of dead Siamese cats made her seem creepy instead of quirky.
Deanna’s inability to say no to her grandmother didn’t do her any favors in winning my respect, either. In fact, that remained an issue throughout most of the book. She simply didn’t seem to have much in the way of a real personality. Or a spine. At the very end, she develops a bit of both, which was a relief, even if it came a bit too late.
The hero, Mitchell, is obnoxious, arrogant, and pushy. He pretends to be engaged to Deanna in order to dissuade another woman from pursuing him, because rejecting her might endanger a business deal. What a prize. He convinces Deanna to marry him – for six months only, so he has enough time to close his deal – in exchange for enough money to fix up her family house. Her grandmother thinks this is the greatest thing ever, naturally.
Predictably, close proximity and the hotness of both parties results in mutual physical attraction, and they eventually fall in love. And here’s where the author did things right. Not the sex, which was okay, but the way they actually started to talk about their issues, and Deanna started to stand up for herself. Mitchell even does one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen a hero do in a love story. I wish there had been more moments like that and a lot less exposition-heavy lead in.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad read. It was fairly well written and there was nothing truly egregious, but it didn’t trip my trigger in the way I had hoped it would.