Author: Christine D’Abo
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: Max Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.
Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancé for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.
When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.
Review: The faux fiancé. One of my favorite tropes and it can either be awesome or an epic fail, especially when it’s sort of insta-love happening. So I went into this a little leery, spoiled rich kid (Grady) and the kind bar owner (Max) who meet when the rich kid is puking his drunken brains out behind said owners bar. Not the most auspicious of meetings, but it gets a little better when Grady returns to the bar to thank Max for doing the right thing. Max is a good guy and he takes care of people. But he’s questioning his life and trying to see what he’s missing.
While Grady may be a rich boy and yes, he’s spoiled, he also pays for it with a controlling father and a watchdog in his father’s assistant. He isn’t allowed to do what he wants with his life or follow his own dreams. They need to be what his father wants for him. Even the innocent action of Max getting him safely back to his hotel when he was so drunk is questioned. “Is this someone else I need to take care of?” is pretty much the standard.
When Grady finds out his father is about to go way too far in the name of business, he hatches the plan of bringing Max to his brother’s upcoming wedding as his fiancé. He will invest in the gym Max so loves if Max goes along. Max wants nothing to do with the whole plan until a confrontation with Justin, the father’s assistant, brings out the protective piece of Max. And so the plan is put into place.
The two begin their charade and since they are attracted to each other, they attempt to have unattached, no strings sex. That one doesn’t go very well, as usual in this type of story, and feelings start to cause even more issues.
I had a few sad moments with the story. The main one was Justin and his turnabout behavior. It is explained why but it didn’t make things easier for him. By the end, I did feel for him and what he had been doing, or rather why, and I wanted good things for him. The other is Grady’s mother and the history of that.
Now Grady’s father. What in the world was the man thinking through most of it? He’s power hungry, for sure, but the things he does and says show such a lack of caring for his son. There is a defining conversation between Grady and his brother, Lincoln, that tries to explain his actions but it wasn’t enough to make him better, for me.
I thought the story worked well and I enjoyed it.