A Temporary Betrothal
Pregnant widow Ellie Jameson is hiding a secret: her betrothal is a sham to keep her safe from her interfering in-laws. It’s simple friendship that prompts her reclusive boss to pose as her fiancé. But can Ellie keep her feelings for Alexander Copeland from developing into something more?
When he moved to Gatlinburg after losing his wife and child, Alexander had one rule: stay out of other people’s lives. Easier said than done with the café owner’s eternally optimistic cook interrupting his enforced solitude. He only intended to protect Ellie, not propose to her. But with a little trust, and a helping of forgiveness, this temporary arrangement could be a recipe for lasting happiness…
A secret: I basically hate the “fake engagement” trope. It seems to be about the most popular theme in all romance subgenres at the moment; I can’t escape it!
The reason I picked this one up was because I generally enjoy the Love Inspired Historical line, and so I hoped for the best, and I did enjoy a lot of things about this book. (And now Harlequin is discontinuing these books!)
I think The Engagement Charade probably had the best “fake engagement” setup I’ve read. The heroine is in an abusive family situation, pregnant, and terrified of having her child taken away or turned against her. The fake engagement – for once – served an actual, believable purpose.
I also think there was enough action and danger to keep the book interesting, without turning it into a suspense story. I much prefer these Western romances when it’s not all just small town goo.
This is apparently the eleventh book in the series, but while you can see when past heroes and heroines step on the page, the author manages to make sure you won’t be confused. We aren’t spammed with catching up with past characters.
One thing I disliked was the hero’s reaction when he found out about the pregnancy. The heroine was in a much worse situation, with much more to lose. Both characters were widowed. And yet – at first – he made everything about *his* pain.
When he found out she was pregnant – well, in the nineteenth century it would have been believable if she’d not been allowed to keep her job. But he fired her because he didn’t want to see a pregnant woman and be reminded of what *he’d* lost. This is a period in time where the average woman had six surviving children. Pregnancy was everywhere!
The end was dramatic, but I don’t think it was too drawn-out. However, I’d have liked to have had an epilogue that included a newborn baby (even though I’m not a baby person), rather than finishing before that.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.