Dear Ms. Paige:
This book intrigued me because the heroine is a stalker and not in a cute or funny or sexy way. She has obsessive tendencies toward the men in her life to the extent she’s damaged them emotionally and she’s had restraining orders issued against her. When the book opens, Alayna Wither’s is coping with her past negative behaviors that have ruined most of the relationships.
She has a flirtation with the manager of the bar where she works because he’s safe. He doesn’t excite her so she allows herself to dream of a future with him. We all see where this is going right? Enter, Hudson Pierce. Hudson Pierce is need of a fiance to thwart his mother’s plans to marry him off to her best friend’s daughter. Hudson has the reverse problem. He can’t become attached.
As far as impossible conflicts go, this is a pretty good setup. Is Alayna’s obsessive behavior going to return? Will it turn off Hudson? Can Hudson overcome his own belief that he cannot attach? If not, how will that affect Alayna.
I wish I had seen Alayna in action. We really only get allusions to her past bad behavior so her hurtful stalking tendencies don’t really seem real in the story. I did appreciate that her psychological issues were treated with some seriousness. She wasn’t coping by herself; she attended meetings; had a sort of sponsor to help her with her issues. And she did lapse into some into some negative behaviors with Hudson. Unfortunately, rather than seeing Alayna recover from her past obsessiveness, Hudson’s acceptance of it makes Alayna’s illness seem one of serendipity. In other words, matched with the right person, obsessive love isn’t destructive but beautiful. There’s no question that a lot of those books appear on the market today, but this book was seemed to raise the spector that that kind of behavior isn’t really healthy.
As for Hudson, he plays a shallow role of rich playboy who wasn’t loved by his mother so he can’t love others. Again, we don’t see any of his destructive behaviors; we are only given small snippets of explanations of his past interaction with women. This distances us from his issues and the seemingly impossible conflict kind of dissolves after a few chapters of them getting together.
The arrangement itself came off as weak too. Hudson has real issues with his mother so his need to come up with a fake fiance to deter her and the determined pursuit of the daughter didn’t hold up. What drives this book isn’t the emotional issues of the two characters or the arrangement but the chemistry between the characters. It’s hot but repetitive.
The story ends with some resolution but there are more books to come. I’ve seen others compare this to the Sylvia Day series and I have to agree with the assessment. It’s not as strongly written but it relies on the same tropes – jealousy, obsession, psychological damage. I wished I could have just seen more of this much talked about behavior in order to more fully buy into Alayna and Hudson as fully realized characters rather than ones who are mostly driven by the parts between their legs. Interesting concept that was successful on executing the erotic part of the story but less successful at hooking a reader on the emotional parts. C-