With his chiseled jaw and thick blond hair, Harrison Montgomery was born to lead. Four generations of Montgomery men have served the state of Georgia, and now he’s next in line. Harrison, though, is driven to right wrongs: namely to clean up the political mess left by his father’s greed and corruption. But Harrison must first win his congressional bid, and nothing can get in his way -- not even an angel who served him whiskey and gave him a shoulder to lean on and a body to love for a night. Problem is, she’s pregnant. Scandal is brewing, and there is only one solution: marriage.
Damage control? Ryan Kaminski can’t believe that a cold, calculating political animal now inhabits the body of the emotionally vulnerable stranger who gave her the most unforgettable night of her life. Really, she doesn’t want anything from Harrison, except to be left alone to have her baby in peace. But Ryan is broke, jobless, and essentially blackmailed by Harrison’s desperate family to accept this crazy marriage deal. For two years, she will have to act the role of caring, supportive wife. But what is Ryan supposed to do when she realizes that, deep in her heart, she’s falling in love?
Good book, with a marriage of convenience between two very different people. It opens with Ryan working her job as a bartender, and seeing the same good-looking "Ken doll" man come in for the third night in a row. The first two nights he had been glued to his phone, ignoring everyone around him, but on this night he sits there looking sad, alone and lost. Ryan is drawn to him and, as she frequently does, gets him to talk a little about what is troubling him. Then she breaks all the rules and spends a hot night with a man whose full name she doesn't know.
Harrison is part of a family with a history of public service, and he is starting his first run for office himself. He is determined not to follow in his father's corrupt footsteps and keeps tight control on his own actions. The one exception was that night with the beautiful bartender who was his port in an emotional storm. He can't forget her, but he can't see her again either. Then he finds out she's pregnant, and to protect himself from scandal he knows he'll have to marry her.
My feelings about Harrison went back and forth between liking him and detesting him. His vulnerability at the beginning had me hoping that everything would turn out all right with whatever problem he had been facing. Even when he left the next morning, he did so with a bit of class. But his reaction when he found out Ryan was pregnant had me going the other way, especially with his threats against her. There were times when he seemed to be two different people. I found him to be rather judgmental, especially regarding his parents, when he wasn't exactly perfect himself. He could also be very kind, as shown when he was trying to take care of Ryan when she was sick. He was very focused on his goal of political office, even though I frequently got the feeling that it isn't what would make him truly happy. As the story went on, the good Harrison was more frequently seen. I liked the way that he came to appreciate Ryan and her support of him. He also started to care for her. When things started to go bad with his campaign, he wanted to protect her from being affected by his troubles, so he tried to drive her away. But in doing so, he finally realizes that it is Ryan who has given him the true reason to be a better man, and has to find a way to win her back. How he goes about it shows just how much he has changed.
I really liked Ryan. She had a working class upbringing and was something of a wild child. She had a brief stint as a model, a mistake of a marriage, and a serious falling out with her family. She's been on her own for six years, trying to get her life back in order. She's really good at reading people and wanting to help them through their problems, which is how she ended up with Harrison in the first place. Even when she finds out who he is, she has no plans to contact him, knowing that it could wreck his plans. Interference from her protective brother takes the decision out of her hands. Her encounter with the political Harrison is painful and leaves her with no choice but to go along with his proposal, but she has the strength to add a few conditions of her own. I loved that she didn't just give in to his demands.
What happens next is a roller coaster of feelings. Ryan may be the complete opposite of Harrison and everything he is, but she isn't stupid. I loved her transformation from bartender to political wife, and the way it completely floored everyone around her. The scene at the press conference that introduced her as Harrison's wife was fantastic. She doesn't try to hide her past or gloss over it, the way that Harrison tried to do, but steps up and owns it and moves on. There's also a wonderful scene at an event at a food bank, where Ryan's past experiences show an empathy that people like Harrison can never have. Harrison starts to gain a new respect for Ryan. She is also a place of normalcy in the craziness that is his life and he grows to need her far more than he ever expected.
The secondary characters were great. Harrison's parents are his example of what not to do with his life and his career. They are really unlikable until the very end, when I developed a little bit of sympathy for them. Ryan's family is an interesting contrast. They obviously love each other, but Ryan's past actions have put a strain on their relationships. I was intrigued by Ryan's brother Wes, and would like to see him in his own story. My favorite of the secondary characters was Harrison's campaign manager Wallace. He's definitely a good friend to Harrison and wants what is best for him. I loved his interactions with Ryan, especially the one when she first arrives in Atlanta. It was great to see him go from disdain and dislike to a real respect and liking for her. I loved his part in bringing them back together.
*copy received in exchange for honest review.
*copy received in exchange for honest review.