Rich Manning and Jamie Warren have been best friends since high school. Now in their thirties, both have weathered through more than their share of bad dating experiences. After being cheated on in their latest relationship debacles, Rich and Jamie come to the conclusion that marriage is apparently not in the cards for either of them. Jamie, however, desperately wants a child. With the wait for a single parent to adopt a newborn possibly taking years, she starts to feel her biological clock ticking. After thinking it over, Jamie decides that she wants to have her own child through artificial insemination. Not comfortable with the idea of a stranger fathering her baby, she asks Rich if he will do it.
Jamie's proposal comes as a bit of shock, but when Rich really considers it, he can't deny that the concept is appealing. However, he refuses to simply be a sperm donor and then bow out of Jamie's and the child's lives gracefully. He wants to be a part of the whole process. To that end, he makes a proposal of his own - a temporary marriage of convenience. Knowing that, for her, marriage would be an emotional commitment and uncertain that she can remain objective, Jamie reluctantly agrees. Soon these long-time friends are experiencing feelings for each other they've never had before, and not long after, passion follows. Can Rich and Jamie overcome the awkwardness brought about by this new and unexpected turn in their relationship, or will their own stubbornness get in the way of a true love that was right in front of them all along?
Marriage of Inconvenience was a nice start to The Manning Sisters spin-off series, Those Manning Men. It is a sweet story of two best friends who've had one too many bad dating experiences and have given up on traditional love and marriage. However, both of them badly want a child of their own, so they agree to enter into a marriage of convenience with the intention of producing one via artificial insemination. Things don't exactly go as planned, and before they know it, they've fallen in love.
Rich is a wonderful guy and a great friend to Jamie. He's known her since they worked together on the high school year book where they constantly butted heads, but once they worked through those differences, they became the best of friends. Rich has always been there for Jamie. He's the one person she knows she can call day or night if she needs someone to share her problems or help her out. Rich is very responsible and doesn't take Jamie's proposal to father her child lightly. I liked that he refused to simply be a sperm donor, but instead wanted to be involved every step of the way in the process. He also refuses to let Jamie bear the entire burden of pregnancy and raising a child alone. He wants to be a true father in every sense of the word and for that I admired him. The realization that he'd been in love with Jamie for a long time kind of sneaks up on him, but once he figures it out, he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wants to be a permanent part of her life if she'll let him.
Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I'm not sure I could have made the choices Jamie did to abandon dating and have a child on her own, but I respected her decisions. At least, she wanted someone she knew and trusted to father her baby rather than a stranger, but of course, that led to all sorts of unintended consequences. Jamie was a sweet heroine, but her biggest faults were her stubbornness and lack of communication. She tends to be one of those women who expects her man to decode her odd moods and unspoken words which could be a little frustrating at times. I have to admit though, that Rich was guilty of these things sometimes too. They were both just a little too stubborn for their own good, which led to several arguments. They have a tendency to misinterpret the other's actions, especially after sharing intimacies, which led to even more miscommunications and misunderstandings. Their obstinacy also makes them both afraid to reveal their feelings, leaving them waiting on the other one to say or do something to indicate they want more than a marriage of convenience. I suppose this could be viewed as a comedy of errors, but it did give me pause. I started to wonder if they were going to make it for the long haul since both of them were so reluctant to open up, but once they finally got past expressing their feelings, things seemed to change between them for the better.
In Marriage of Inconvenience, readers get to know Rich's two brothers a little better. Paul is a journalist and the only one of the brothers who is already married, which makes him the perfect person to give Rich a little advice on the topic. However, his marital status tragically changes, leading him to become the hero of the next book, Stand-In Wife. Jason is a veterinarian and playboy who has no intention of getting married. He is the closest of Rich's siblings and becomes the hero of the third book, Bride on the Loose. Then there is Rich's sister, Christy's ex-fiancé, James, an attorney who helps Rich and Jamie draw up a legal agreement. I had been a little disappointed that a seemingly good man like James got left out in the cold in the last book of The Manning Sisters duet, so it's nice to know that he'll get his HEA too, the fourth and last in the series, Same Time, Next Year.
Overall, Marriage of Inconvenience was a light and easy, but enjoyable read. It contained a lot of themes I typically love, so if Rich and Jamie hadn't been quite so stubborn and hadn't had so many misunderstandings, it probably would have been a keeper for me. As is, I still liked it, and the prospect of Paul, Jason, and James becoming future heroes has sufficiently whetted my appetite for more of "Those Manning Men." Marriage of Inconvenience was originally published as a stand-alone novel in the Silhouette Special Edition line, and was later reprinted in the single-author anthology The Manning Brides along with the second book of the series.
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