"Lady, I've never had a fiancee, fake or otherwise," he said in
a low voice that made her knees weaken just a little. "And it's
been a while since I've gone on a decent bender, so if I'd asked
you to marry me, I'm pretty sure I'd at least remember your face."
That would have been hard to do. "We've never actually met."
Emma Shaw is ballsy, or batsh*t crazy (if you ask Sean), knocking on a stranger's door and pronouncing him her fake fiance. Thankfully, he's not a total stranger, and that went far in propelling the book into the realm of believability for me! Sure, they've never met, but Emma's best friend is married to Sean's cousin. Ahh, a connection that works.
Once I realized Emma hadn't just pulled a name out of a hat, or showed up at just any guy's door, I relaxed and began to enjoy the set-up. The truth is, I love a well-thought-out pretend engagement/marriage plot! The possibilities when throwing together two people who have to fake being in love are endless; oftentimes humorous, and utterly sexy! Shannon Stacey artfully navigated such a tricky plot, and I loved every single second of it.
What happens when you love someone so much you can't stand seeing them worry? In Emma's case, she went to great lengths to ensure her grandma, Cat, could enjoy her retirement in sunny Florida. This is where us single gals can learn a good lesson about little white lies. Don't invent a fake man. It always backfires. Grandmas are wily creatures who know all the tricks. They have decades of wisdom on their side! Mark my words, she'll visit. And when she does, she'll see right through ya!
Cat was no exception to the rule. I loved being treated to Cat's POV. She wasn't duped for a minute. When she and Sean's Aunt Mary teamed up, I couldn't control the laughter! But back to those silly kids, Emma and Sean. It is there story despite the scene-stealing older women in their lives.
Sean is the guy you're mama dreams you'll grow up to marry! He's sexy, charming in a good ole' boy kind of way, and loves his family. His Aunt Mary and Uncle Leo were a big part of he and his siblings lives after their mother died. I wanted to hug the entire Kowalski clan! They all thought Sean had lost it playing house with a woman he didn't know, but they supported him. They had a lot of fun at Emma and Sean's expense! The Newlywed Game had me laughing so hard I was crying! Aunt Mary, with her wooden spoon, made me smile in every scene she was in.
Emma is not a damsel in distress! She's a strong woman with a big heart who loves completely. Did she expect she'd fall in love with a man like Sean? No way. But when she realizes she loves him, she doesn't question it. I loved how "real" Emma was. She couldn't cook, but she cleaned like an Energizer Bunny! She's a landscape designer; not afraid of dirt, sweat, and hard work! Sean and I both thought she was a breath of fresh air.
There was an unexpected secondary love story between Cat and a man from her past. Cat and Emma's emotions were mirrored as they each fell for their guy.
I can't possibly wrap-up this review without mentioning Sean's sticky notes! I swear those sticky notes were a supporting character! I kept waiting for another to appear on the mirror in the bathroom he and Emma shared. It was such a cute touch. I can see him still leaving her sticky notes 50 years down the road!
The path to Sean and Emma's happily-ever-after was paved with lots of laughs, co-conspiring mother figures, fun family get-togethers, and yes, enough tears that my eyes were puffy when I finished the last page.
YOURS TO KEEP is a keeper, and a pick for one of my top reads of 2011!
(PS. I'm heading over to Amazon for the first two books in this series!)
* Reviewed @ SPARKS FLY | Romance Reviews