“I don’t want Hollywood. I don’t want to be a star. I don’t want anything else.” – Ella Scales
Cora Seton, you devious, wonderful woman, you did it again! Why, why must you torture me with your freaking perfect male characters? Why can’t Chance Creek be real, damn it?! I would move to that place in a heartbeat!
Austin Hall knows he’s not the perfect hero everyone thinks he is. And he sure as hell doesn’t deserve happiness. Not when he has screwed up so badly. But when it’s his turn to get married to meet his aunt’s conditions, so that he and his brothers can take their father’s ranch back, he knows he has to at least pretend the whole “happy” part. So what happens when “pretend” becomes real, as his new bride, a hurt and cheated Hollywood actress, Ella Scales, proves to be much more than he expected? When two souls as scarred as those two act like they’re in love, can they keep up the performance? Or will they finally let themselves free to enjoy the best thing that ever happened to them?
I said it before and I don’t mind saying it again, Mrs. Seton’s men are true masterpieces – too bad they’re impossible to find in real life… Austin is one of the twins, and the second to get hitched in order to help his brothers take back their land. However, unlike Mason who had a clear view of what needed to be done, and what he truly wanted, Austin was in deep, deep trouble. Because his mind AND heart were set on making him miserable. Having lost a friend in the field, he blames himself, and refuses to be happy because it feels like he’s cheating on the dead guy by living his life. This goes to show how awesome he is as a character. Austin is not perfect in the Prince Charming kind of way. He’s got the looks, he’s got the personality and the manners, but he’s so broken a girl wouldn’t know where to start to get him fixed. And that’s what makes him so amazing. Because it shows that even strong men like him are not invincible. And because, despite his trauma, he’s still trying to make things right, to get back on the straight path and be whole again.
The fact that he was so adorable while doing so was a major bonus, of course.
Now, I said that a girl would have trouble fixing such a guy, right? Oh, but you see, Ella is no girl – she’s a damn fine woman! One that is so rare to find in female heroines these days.
You see, the poor actress was broken, too. Losing an OSCAR to a bimbo who also stole your husband-to-be in front of all cameras, and then getting humiliated? Anyone would be scarred for life after that. But not Ella. She replies to Austin’s add, becomes his wife, and proves to be just the female the delicious man needed by his side. She was sweet, and helpful, and she supported Austin in any way she could. It was hard watching her try to help him, while at the same time she knew that he might not return her feelings. But it was necessary – Austin couldn’t heal instantly, this needed to be done in stages and slowly, and I like that we got to watch all the steps, one by one, without being bored, and that Ella was the major trigger in them all. Though I still cried for half of the book, it was just so heartbreaking to see her hold her pain in so that she wouldn’t bother him…
The thorn in my side when it comes to this series, though? (damn, and just when I had started thinking there would be no more annoying characters like certain other Chance Creek citizens…)
Freaking. Effing. Colt.
I liked him so much in the first book – well, his humor, at least. But now I saw another side of him. The irresponsible, playboy-ish one. And not only did it infuriate me, it also made me feel sick. I was like “I hope you get the worst shrew out there and get stuck madly in love with her, you jerk!” during most of the book, I swear! Thank God the next book isn’t his. Oh, yeeeah, next up is Zane – oh, I’m so gonna enjoy this…
“I have loved you since I’ve first laid eyes on you, back when I was too damaged to even remember what love was.” – Austin Hall