Her one-night stand, however, has other plans: He needs an accomplished and presentable girlfriend to bring before his parents—and for six months of her time, he is willing and prepared to spend an obscene amount of money.
Nothing but trouble can come of such an arrangement. But can Eva stop herself? Or will she fall headlong in love with a man who will leave her when their contract expires with a smile, a check, and hardly a backward glance?
Comment: This is the first contemporary book I try by Sherry Thomas, an author mostly known by her historical work. I was quite curious to see how her "voice" would resonate in a different genre.
In this book we have the story of Evangeline, a woman whose parents split but her father married another woman, who she has considered a mother as well. However, her stepmother has bipolar disease and that has affected not only Evangeline's choices but also her thoughts about relationships and being with someone.
Bennett is a guy she meets when helping a friend and they end up having a one night stand. However, there's quite a lot in common between them and Bennet asks Evangeline to be his sort of fake girlfriend so he can reunite with his estranged parents. The problem is when they start mixing up fake dating with real feelings...
Thinking about the trope of the fake relationship which turns into reality, it does feel like one of those Harlequin stories from brands like Mills and Boon, back from the 80s and 90s... and adapted to historical settings, I can totally see this being perfectly done by this author.
However, I must say that in a contemporary setting and by this specific author, the story was a little... off tone. I don't think there was such a great balance between the plot and the character's attitudes.
The story developed based on a series of coincidences, those that only in books do align themselves in any way we can accept, like Bennet having been a no show in Evangeline's french debutante ball and now, years after, they meet again almost by chance and they hit if off somehow.
To move this already unlikely scenario towards an even more complicated one with the fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope too... I just think there were ways for this to move forward in interesting ways without the fake relationship but... in contemporary settings, this only works in certain circumstances and the way this plot was designed, I don't think it went the best way.
The relationship, in which so much is centered, wasn't that bad to read about but I must say I didn't really warm up to the protagonists. Both have a lot of emotional baggage and I did like how certain situations were addresses. I also liked how paced the steps were in their moving on towards happiness.
The characters, though... while getting to know one another, they exchanges secrets about one another, stories from their pasts... more Bennet and I must say I didn't always accept the thoughts behind some of his choices. It does annoy me a little bit those who misbehave and say they "were rebels" or felt the need to "do their on thing" or even "test their limits and feelings". Bennet does grow up and I liked him a lot more based on his behavior now but... I just didn't warm up to him.
Evangeline was also a though nut to crack. It can be understandable why she has so many fears of allowing people in to her heart but again... some attitudes of hers were not something I'd like to see people around me do and I don't mean her attempt to interfere in her stepmother's love life long after her father's death. Even when her behavior was explainable, her thoughts about what she was doing... let's just say I wasn't fond of her most of the time.
Therefore, this was a story about two people I wasn't as fond of, dealing with situations I would have them do differently and in a plot I would have changed too. I liked the writing overall, I liked how the author's style is recognizable and the HEA and some details here and there. But all things considered, this was not a story I' wish to read again and I guess I'll stick to the author's historicals, which always seem to have a better balance.