By Jessica Hart
Publisher: Harlequin Kiss
Publication Date: January 22, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Planning the most-talked-about wedding of the year is enough to break engineer Frith Taylor out in a cold sweat. She’s used to construction sites, not wedding fairs! But estate manager George Challoner’s offer of help is one that’s too good to resist. George may be the rebel of the prestigious Challoner family, but his insanely good looks are giving Frith wedding fever! Charm personified, he’s making her feel things she hasn’t dared feel before. Maybe her little sister’s wedding won’t be the only one Frith’s planning…?
I love this new line from Harlequin – the cute and bright covers and the slightly shorter length than the regular categories. They’re very light on the steam-scale, high on the swoon and still very modern in attitude, which can be a great easy, fluffy and stress-free kind of book. Hitched! is a great example of all of the above with a very British flair – but the synopsis is a little misleading. It’s much less madcap than it sounds and is quite sweet.
The story is told from the first person POV of Frith (that name!), a terribly practical, sensible and organized engineer working on a building project in the English countryside. As a fill-in for her ailing boss, she’s hoping that if she does a good enough job, it’ll be her leg up to her dream job, so she’s not putting up with any nonsense from the guy in the cottage next door, estate manager George. George happens to be pretty gorgeous in a way that’s totally not her type, of course, which explains the sparks flying off of the two of them from the opening pages when they start arguing about…everything.
The delightful normality of their fighting is broken up when Frith’s half-sister Saffron shows up where she’s working, wailing about her maid of honor’s selfish act of eloping which has ruined Saffron’s chance of a well-planned hen party. Oh, woe! George has to get his sticky fingers into the mess and of course, Frith finds herself planning a party. Smart guy that he is, George volunteers to help out, since keeping her close is essential to his plan to start kissing her.
Frith isn’t the kind of woman who’s going to make things easy. I really wanted to either give her a good shake, send her to therapy or maybe just a good masseuse. She’s one of those women who has a Five Year Plan (and a Ten Year Plan), capital letters intended. I’m big on planning myself, even if I don’t stick to it, but she was downright rigid. She had a pretty crazy childhood, with all sorts of daddy problems, especially when princess Saffron came along, but it was nice to see her confidence grow as she and George talked and yep, kissed.
There was much more to George than met Frith’s eye originally. Instead of just a lazy estate manager, he was a disgraced banker from an influential family, with dreams that had little to do with working behind a desk. He was funny and charming in a Cary Grant sort of way. I thought he felt a little too polished sometimes, like I was only getting a surface look at him even though I heard the words about some terrible things that happened to him. He still said all the perfectly romantic words to Frith that I was looking for and I was sniffling madly into my tissues for a while.
The plot isn’t terribly original, but its freshness comes from a nice conversational style that Frith actually takes with the reader. There are a couple of cases when she almost directly makes a quick, quirky comment to the reader – I thought they were very cute, very smartly done and since they were in the beginning, it engaged me right away. Another really fun touch involves cell phone ring tones and if you’re at all like me and can’t figure out how to change yours, you’ll love it.
Hitched! was a light, clean romance that didn’t drive me crazy with angst or bore me to tears with complicated world-building I needed a spreadsheet for. There’s just a handsome guy with a past wooing a pretty woman with issues about her future and there’s a bunch of kissing and more. Not a bad way to spend some time.
My Rating: B+