“Reader, I married him.” Such a cliché line, but it’s all I got. It has been a month since I have posted, and my only excuse is one blip in the timeline of life: My wedding. Lots of planning, lots of recovery, but on October 9, I finally said my vows in front of a castle and presented my SO as the official husband unit. So now, I can’t think of a better way to jump back into one of my passions than a romcom of epic proportions. Never Fall for Your Fiancée by Virginia Heath was, while not believable per se, absolutely delightful, laugh out loud, and simmering. So thank you, Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press, for this fun roller coaster!
From the Publisher:
The first in a new historical rom-com series, a handsome earl hires a fake fiancée to keep his matchmaking mother at bay, but hilarity ensues when love threatens to complicate everything.
The last thing Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, ever wants is a wife. Unfortunately for him, his mother is determined to find him one, even from across the other side of the ocean. So Hugh invents a fake fiancée to keep his mother’s matchmaking ways at bay. But when Hugh learns his interfering mother is on a ship bound for England, he realizes his complicated, convoluted but convenient ruse is about to implode. Until he collides with a beautiful woman, who might just be the miracle he needs.
Minerva Merriwell has had to struggle to support herself and her two younger sisters ever since their feckless father abandoned them. Work as a woodcut engraver is few and far between, and the Merriwell sisters are nearly penniless. So when Hugh asks Minerva to pose as his fiancée while his mother is visiting, she knows that while the scheme sounds ludicrous, the offer is too good to pass up.
Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh’s estate, of course nothing goes according to his meticulous plan. As hilarity and miscommunication ensue while everyone tries to keep their tangled stories straight, Hugh and Minerva’s fake engagement starts to turn into a real romance. But can they trust each other when their relationship started with a lie? The first book in the Merriwell Sisters series, Never Fall for Your Fiancée is a hilarious, sparkling historical romantic comedy from Virginia Heath.
What I Loved:
- The Ridiculous (and Hysterical) Premise. Our knight in shining armor, Hugh Standish, is a positive rake and scoundrel with a heart of gold. In a misguided effort to keep his mother happy but also remain unencumbered by a wife, Hugh comes up with a woman named Minerva that he is wildly in love with, but is unfortunately sickly. She is intelligent, beautiful, an avid horseman, and wildly unlucky (whose dad dies walking home?) And, she is entirely fake. Or is she? Enter the real Minerva, a headstrong working class woman who is intelligent, witty, beautiful, petrified of horses, and in desperate need of money. The premise is absolutely ridiculous, but also laugh out loud funny. I was hooked immediately. Sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction, and I didn’t have nearly as much trouble suspending my disbelief as the premise would suggest.
- Minerva and Hugh. Part of the reason why I had no trouble diving into Never Fall for your Fiancée was because Hugh and Minerva had delightfully witty banter that screamed chemistry. Even Minerva’s annoying sisters, Diana and Vee, could see the chemistry from a mile away. Watching their love blossom from witty one liners to passionate embrace was like watching a flower bloom.
- The Side Characters. While I thought that Diana and Vee could have been better written, I loved Olive (Hugh’s mother), the butler, and Giles. I love how fleshed out the side characters were and important to the plot. Olive is sharp as a tack, and while she loves her son, she is completely onto his antics and can’t help but be hyper-inquisitive. Giles is hysterical and is hiding a major secret (I am sure we will learn in the next book), but here it is fun just watching him watch High crash and burn. They bring comic relief to a new level.
What Didn’t Work as Well:
- The Miscommunication. I am a sucker for the fake fiancé/fake dating trope, but it also goes along with the much maligned miscommunication trope. Hugh and Minerva love each other and both know it individually, but can’t seem to connect. Hugh thinks he is destined to be a philanderer (more on that next) and Minerva thinks he is in love with another woman, and it of course almost leads to them being apart forever. Sometimes this trope works. Here, it was the least believable thing about the plot.
- Hugh’s “Philandering Gene.” Without spoiling too much, Hugh is led to believe that the men in is family are unfit for marriage and that they all have wondering eyes. Because Hugh is *actually a good guy*, he doesn’t want to get married because he has decided he will *obviously* cheat. The premise would be laughable if it weren’t so sad for Hugh. It also doesn’t speak much to his intelligence.
Barring a lot of frustrating miscommunication between our wayward hero and brilliant heroine (and maybe wanting a little more steam), Never Fall for Your Fiancée was so much fun to read; I simply flew through it. I am so excited to read book two. This was my first Virginia Heath read, and I am now a huge fan. Four and a half waves out of five (and yes I did read this on a beach, I am just super behind SMH). This adorable rom-com hits shelves November 9th (so close!!) so pre-order your copy here (pre-order on sale at Bookshop!) or here for the e-book.