Review: Engaging Brooke

ENGAGING BROOKE - Dara Girard
Harlequin Kimani/Romance
PRINT | EBOOK
May 2014
CATEGORY ROMANCE

REVIEWER:
Jennifer Brathwaite |  RATING: C 
SYNOPSIS: Jameson Broward has only one true love: his vast and rugged ranch in Granger, Montana. But he understands the importance of protecting a family's legacy, so he agrees to a marriage of convenience to the woman he's cared about for years. As the stoic groom and his beautiful bride begin their businesslike union, they are confronted by the unexpected lure of their sensual and passionate chemistry. Is it possible for the sexy rancher and his pretend wife to turn their short-term arrangement into a lifetime of love?

REVIEW: Jameson Broward is striving to be the best son, rancher, and man he can be.  He’s doing so while dealing with a situation that threatens the way of life he holds dear while also trying to maintain the self control he’s worked hard to cultivate since he had his heart shredded more than a decade ago.  That hard fought control is challenged by the appearance of Brooke Palmer, his ex-fiancée’s little sister.  She asks him to marry her so she can gain full ownership of her father’s ranch; an extreme action that’s required, due to a stipulation in her father’s will.  Initially Jameson says no but eventually he agrees and he and Brooke set about trying to convince everyone that their relationship is a love match.  As it happens, Brooke really is in love with Jameson, and has been since she was a teen.  Jameson never saw Brooke as more than a kid but now his image of her has definitely changed.  In the beginning their union is more of a business deal but as time passes, business turns to friendship and friendship to love.  Due to how their affiliation started both Brooke and Jameson are hesitant to admit how they feel.  By the end of the story however, they both accept their feelings and choose to embrace love and each other.

The dialogue of ENGAGING BROOKE is good.  It reads as genuine and improves as the book progresses but is never remarkable.  The characters are also good, with the leads becoming more fleshed out and relatable as the story progresses.  Jameson’s housekeeper Cecelia, his father and his brother are all nice additions as they add shape and depth to the leads and are an honest representation of how family can be annoying but would never be traded.

Jameson’s ranch and the town of Granger create an intimate feel to the story.  Everyone being privy to and having an opinion of everyone else’s business, and the actions of a few having an effect on the many, are examples of the community dynamics that make up the lives of the lead characters.

The weakest aspect of the book would be the pacing.  The novel reads for the most part as though it could be written in bullet point.  It lacks fluidity and an engrossing progression of the relationship between Jameson and Brooke.  Some scenes are endearing but unfortunately they are too few and far between.

On the whole ENGAGING BROOKE is only okay.  Too much is left unsaid and undemonstrated between the leads for the reader to become truly devoted to their relationship.  There is also a secondary storyline of outsiders (a Hollywood actress in particular) buying up land in the small town that is referenced several times.  Not only is that plotline never resolved, there are no clues given even to its significance, making it more of a frustration and a distraction than anything else.  For me, unfortunately, I cannot say it is necessarily a must buy.

1st January 2014 | romcol@caribsurf.com