I’ve had my eye on Hale Maree by Misty Provencher since it was making it’s rounds in the blogosphere, especially because the title is so clever. When I saw Misty at the UtopYA conference, I knew I had to pick up a copy. (She even signed it for me! yay!)
Hale Simmons dreams of climbing out of her impoverished life, going to college, and getting herself a titanium crash helmet, so she can eventually bust through the Plexiglas ceiling of her crappy life. But for now, she’s just a 18-year-old girl with a flimsy hope, barely getting by with her alcoholic father, Jerry.
But for Hale, ‘crappy’ suddenly takes a nosedive, when Jerry becomes the sole witness to a horrible accident. It is an event which means to effect everyone, especially Hale, who wasn’t even involved.
While the depth of the accident has just begun to unfold, Otto Maree, a prominent business man and old family friend, stands to lose everything because of it. Otto is desperate for Hale’s father to stay quiet about what occurred the night the two men met for a drink. Out of mutual moments of desperation, the two fathers forge a deal. Jerry is desperate to gain financial stability for both himself and Hale, and Otto Maree is more than willing to pay to keep his secret just that.
But deals like this need to be made of the strongest vows and bound with the most faithful of loyalties. Otto proposes a marriage between Hale and his playboy-son, Oscar, in order to assure that the secret remains ‘in the family’. The mystery surrounding the accident continues to grow and Hale struggles against her own mysterious feelings that begin to develop for Oscar, who turns out to less of a playboy, but just as fiercely loyal and dedicated as his father.
As the pressure around her continues to escalate, Hale realizes that she’s got to decide if this arranged marriage is really just a big mistake or an amazing twist of fate that has been waiting around for this particular accident to happen.
The first thing I will say is this book is a bit outlandish — It’s based on the idea that a girl is forced into marriage due to a secret that her father and her betrothed’s father keep. Now keep in mind, Hale Maree is an adult contemporary romance, not a fantasy/historical romance novel; hence, the outlandishness where a girl would be forced into marriage so quickly in the 21sth century. BUT, despite the unbelievablity factor, I devoured this book and it left me with a grin on my face by the end.
I finished this book in a day. I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to see what Hale would do. She’s trapped in this crazy situation where she WANTS to get away (and tries to a few times. YOU GO GIRL!), but Oscar is a beautiful man, inside and out, making it harder for Hale to say no as time goes by. I loved this quality in Oscar; he is so unexpectedly kind but also surprisingly sensual. Hale’s situation is so sad with her drunken father and living in poverty so when a rich, handsome guy is trying to sweep her off her feet, I couldn’t help but swoon, even if it was incredibly cliché and fosters negative female character stereotypes. This novel was a bit fast-paced; I wish it could have explored their love a bit more but this book was definitely all about Hale and Oscar’s interactions. I LOVED their conversations. There are a few “dramatic” things that bring the story to a close, but I was more concerned about Hale and Oscar’s love story.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a feel-good, fluffy romance, where everything doesn’t have to make sense because it’s all about the characters. The steamy scenes left me wanting more and I even caught some “Alpha Male-ness” in Oscar’s character. Overall, it was lovely entertainment.
STARS: 4 out of 5