“I’ve never met anyone who loved my playing enough to want to put a ring on it.”
What a delightfully wonderful book!! A sweet, heart-warming, and romantic story that hit all the right notes and instantly pulled me in as soon as I started reading.
Truthfully, I’d been in a bit of a book funk for a few days, unable to find a book I really connected with, but as soon as I started reading this, I instantly fell in love with the story and the characters as they unexpectedly tumbled into a pretend marriage of convenience that slowly but surely turned to true love as they began to fall for each other.
The writing was so strong. This book is genuinely well-written and I highlighted many passages. The overall mood was definitely light-hearted but, while it did have a bit of a slower start, as the story built, so did the angst and by the time I’d reached the second half, I was flipping pages so fast. Their banter kept me smiling and their unlikely romance made me swoon. They were definitely one of those couples who you want to root for and hope they make it.
Manhattan — particularly musical theater — is a beast for single women. Calvin was a safe but fun little diversion. I never planned on getting nearly murdered in front of him, let alone actually speaking to him.
So it’s about this young woman who, for months, has been mesmerized by the music played by a handsome young Irishman in the subway. She goes out of her way each day to pass by him and just listen but doesn’t have the courage to go up and meet him. Something about the way he plays though draws her in and, from afar, her crush deepens. Until the night when they finally met. For a fleeting moment. There was a connection. A few words exchanged, and then she was off. But mere minutes later, he saved her life when a mugger caught her off-guard and threw her onto the subway tracks.
And yet her savior still remained a complete mystery to her, unwilling to reveal too much of himself. And she soon found out the reason why. When a major theatrical production she was working on lost its lead performer, she suggested her unknown but incredibly talented mysterious subway musician as a replacement and although he wowed the producers with his musical skill, there truth behind his secrecy finally came out…
“Aye, I’m flattered. I…” A pause. “I’m dyin’ to say yes.”
“So say yes!” Richard sings.
On the other end of the line, Calvin growls. “It’s just that, ah…”
And, in this instant, I know.
I know why he’s hesitating, because it’s got to be the same reason he didn’t want to get too involved with the police the night of my accident.
“I’m not exactly here legally, y’see.”
Then someone suggested — almost jokingly — that she could always marry him. It was a crazy idea, one she didn’t take seriously at first, but the more she thought about it, the more open to the idea she became. And that was how their unlikely pretend-but-real marriage came about before they shared even a kiss…
I swallow a lump of air and push the words out in a rush: “I was thinking thatwecouldgetmarried.”
Calvin sits back, surprised.
I look at the other tables, a little unsettled. Is he going to find this not just bizarre but outright immoral?
He puts down his fork. “Aye, why not. It’s only Holy Matrimony.” He tilts his head back and laughs delightedly. “Surely you’re only joking?”
It was supposed to be temporary marriage of convenience. But that connection they sparked on the moment they first met slowly deepened and everything changed as they begin to really fall in love with each other…
“I’ve never done this before. I just know I’m falling for the girl I married.”
It might sound weird to say this given how completely different the storylines are but I actually was getting some definite Twilight-y vibes off the ‘feeling’ in this book. Just that kind of breathless anticipation and engagement in the story and the mysterious hero with secrets who saves her and yet still stays in the shadows… I kind of loved getting that feeling off the story and I mean, it’s a huge deal for anyone to get married. But marrying a stranger who you’ve been secretly crushing on for months without him knowing is a recipe for some serious unrequited love and angsty fun.
I try to remind myself that this isn’t real — and it certainly isn’t forever — but every time he rolls over in the middle of the night and wakes me up with his hands and his weight over me, it feels more real. Every time he brings me a cup of coffee with his crazy bed head and pillow lines on his face, it feels more real. Every time he holds my jacket for me to slip into before we leave the apartment, and kisses my cheek, it feels more real… How could I possibly not fall in love with that?
Everything about their relationship happened backwards. They went on a first date, then got married before their first kiss, then became lovers before truly becoming close friends. And yet their unconventional love story worked for them. I really got the feeling with these characters that they’d been taken down roads they never intended. She perpetually felt like a secondary character in her own life story. And he’d done so many things right but ultimately just hadn’t had the opportunity yet to really find his place in the world. Until she fell into his life.
“Is the plan that I come home with you tonight?”
Heat spreads up my neck and over my cheeks. “I think so.”
“You have a couch?”
“Your bedroom door lock?”
I pull back, looking at him. “Do I need it to lock?”
He shakes his head quickly. “Of course not. I want you to feel safe.”
“You must think I’m a maniac.”
His grin charges something to life inside me. “Well, aren’t you? I think that’s why I like you, Holland Bakker McLoughlin. That and your freckles.”
… “You think I’m taking your name?”
“I’m sure of it.”
My jaw drops through a grin. “I married a caveman.”
As their lives began to take unexpected turns with his rise to fame and his past secrets being revealed, things got more complicated between them and yet I was so invested in their story that I couldn’t read fast enough. They each did make some mistakes to be sure but I mostly found them to be understandable ones. Hindsight is 20-20 but in the heat of the moment mistakes can happen. But to me, it’s how you deal with the aftermath that defines a person. My heart raced. The pages flew by. And it was all worth it because the ending was beautiful!
With a little nod, Calvin bends, eyes closed, and strums the first, brilliant note.
I feel the collective intake of breath, the way bodies behind me in the shadows shift forward now to see, not only hear. I see the way Michael’s eyebrows seem pinned high on his forehead, the way sullen Richard has released his arms from their omnipresent cross and tucked his hands more easily in his pockets, rocking back on his heels.
I see Calvin impress the entire fucking theater, and clay a hand over my mouth. Is it weird that in this second I see my street musical up there and want to scream? Is it weird that I sense how much this means to him, even if I don’t now anything else about him?
I want to dance across the stage, I am so proud.
There were only two complaints I had about this book. The first was that there were a few slower non-romancy parts to the book that weren’t quite as engaging. And I sometimes found the heroine’s insecurities annoying but ultimately everything really did balance out by the end and looking back on the book, I have only good feelings towards it. And while I did wish for an epilogue, their story ended on a high with heart-warming emotions and a genuine full circle to their love story.
His smile straightens. “I don’t like to think of you playing a side part in your story.”
I bite my lips, struggling not to look away. I’m not entirely sure what to say.
“You’ve suddenly become a very large part of mine,” he says quietly. “And I yours. No? Why not make it epic?”
If you’re looking for a well-written, sexy, fun, angsty romance with strong characters and an absorbing story, definitely grab a copy of this! I loved it and would highly recommend it!
Rating: 4.5 stars. Contemporary Romance Standalone.
Note: This book releases in a few days but if you pre-order a copy, it won’t be charged til release and will automatically download to your eReader the moment it goes live so you don’t accidentally forget about it!