Casey and Joe have been engaged for years. Seven, to be exact, and Casey just wants to get married. So she tricks Joe into joining her on a TV show, where she will appear in a wedding gown and he is meant to marry her on the spot. Unfortunately, Casey is instead humiliated on national television when Joe refuses to marry her and tells her that he no longer loves her. Adam Carmichael, the owner of the business and Memphis’s most eligible bachelor, steps in to marry her, assuming that the marriage is fake. After the televised ceremony is over, Adam and Casey learn that their marriage is actually legal. As they wait for an annulment, both begin to find comfort in their sham marriage and wonder if perhaps they ought to give it a try after all.
I’m not really a normal Harlequin reader. I find category romances in general to be too short for real character development; they almost inevitably end up as lust = love. This one is different, maybe because it’s a “Super Romance”, but I found the emphasis was in fact totally on the relationship. Amazingly, I could really feel for Casey and Adam and their unique issues and problems. I wasn’t expecting that from a 268 page mass market paperback, but Abby Gaines must know what she’s doing. I loved watching this couple fall in love and was pleasantly surprised at the playful banter that the couple shares and their alternate attempts to woo each other. There is sexual tension, but the scenes themselves are much more restrained and later in the book than I expected.
Somehow, the author even finds time for brief subplots without making the main story feel rushed. Eloise, Adam’s stepmother, still loves her departed husband and struggles to find compassion for a man who has feelings for her. Casey’s family is ridiculously clingy and each member has to learn to stand on his or her own two feet. Adam has a legal battle on with more distant members of his family for ownership of channel 8. And somehow we still manage to get a full picture of Adam and Casey learning to love each other.
Overall, I may have to revise my opinion on at least this category of romances. I still prefer those with more depth, with an actual storyline in addition to the romance, but I was pleasantly surprised by Married by Mistake. If you’re interested in more, Abby Gaines has a website with news, excerpts, and added scenes for this and her other novels.