January 2011, Series Romance
Har Sup Rom #1682, $5.50, 288 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373716826
Having read a couple of other Karina Bliss romance novels, I went into this one expecting a quirky, but interesting plot peopled by a complex hero and heroine. Happily, I got exactly what I expected from this New Zealander.
When they were thirty, in a bit of fun best friends Jocelyn Swann and Dan Jansen made a marriage contract on a bar coaster: If they weren’t married by the time they were 33, then they would marry each other. The book opens when they’re 33 and both unmarried, and Dan is taking the marriage contract seriously, much to Jo’s surprise.
He’s taking it so seriously, in fact, that he’s putting together the perfect wedding with the help of one of Jo’s employees. He’s contacted the minister, booked the church and reception hall, looked at cakes and flowers, and sent out the invitations.
Typically in a Bliss book, things aren’t as idyllic as they seem. Dan has just had his special forces team nearly wiped out in Afghanistan and is suffering from remorse at not being on duty when they were attacked and two of them died. In addition, his parents are having a crisis in their marriage, and Dan, who wants to take over the family farm so his father can retire, may have to physically remove his dad, who’s now supposed to be living in a townhouse, to do so.
Even though Jo’s sure the cause of Dan’s fixation on the wedding has to do with his army-related remorse, she absolutely refuses to marry him for her own reasons and is appalled that everywhere she goes in their small town, people are talking about the upcoming wedding. She even goes so far as to print a retraction to the wedding invitations in the newspaper she owns and manages.
Dan, however, doesn’t have any idea about Jo’s personal reasons for refusing to marry him. For one, the grandmother who raised Jo is suffering from dementia, and for another, well, you have to read the book to find out Jo’s real stumbling block. As the days get closer and closer to the wedding date, Bliss tightens the screws, which made me wonder if there was going to be a ceremony at all.
Karina Bliss is an excellent writer whose plots are so complex and her characters so realistic that readers are given much more than cookie cutter rehashes of classic stories. Also, her solutions to the problems are unique, which is the reason I quickly downloaded this book onto my Kindle when I saw that it had come out. Bliss has definitely become one of my auto-buys.
-- Pat Henshaw
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