Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stand-in Groom by Suzanne Brockmann ***

This is a novella-length story (191 pp) included in a 2fer book with Time Enough For Love.

Chelsea Spencer needs a groom. Her inheritance clearly states she has to be married to receive it, so she has a wedding scheduled for Sunday with a business partner, Emilio, with plans for a honeymoon followed by an annulment. She needs the money to make the payments on her software business.

Unfortunately, Emilio has run into a small problem - he's since fallen in love with someone else, so he backs out of the deal.

Chelsea's too proud to ask Daddy for a loan - she'd rather ask a stranger to stand in as the groom. Well, if you can get past that odd plot point, this was an ok read. Chelsea meets Johnny when he stops her muggers from absconding with her purse - he's driving a Meals On Wheels truck, and she assumes he's a minimum wage truck driver. But he's handsome and Italian, so she asks him to stand in for Emilio, go with her to Vegas for a real marriage, go on the honeymoon (but sleep in separate rooms) then return to annul the deed - all so she can get the inheritance and make her business loan payments. For his part, he gets a large sum of money - money he intends to start his own restaurant.

Johnny's actually the head chef at an upper crust restaurant, so exclusive Chelsea's rich daddy can't even get a reservation in the private dining room. But Chelsea isn't interested in getting to know Johnny - she just needs him to act the part. He shows up, does his job (telling all the guests he doesn't want to discuss business, since Emilio was a successful investment banker), and fills out his tux pretty nicely too. It seems everyone buys the story. Now can they fulfill their roles, get through the honeymoon, and get the annulment so Johnny can collect his payment?

The one interesting part of the story was something I haven't read in romance before: phone sex. They have to refrain from consummating the marriage to have a legal annulment, but are so attracted to each other that it's difficult to stay apart. Johnny, ever the honorable fellow, has promised her he would not do the deed (before the annulment, anyway), so when she begs him on the phone to come into her room to do the deed anyway, he introduces her to phone sex as a substitute.

There's not much else interesting about the story - mediocre/average - 3 stars. I got it for the time travel novel anyway!

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