Review: The Cowboy’s Contract Marriage by Leslie North

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Author: Leslie North
Series: Grant Brothers #2

Pages: 155

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Jonah Grant wants to make his own mark on the world. As a horse breeder starting his business from scratch, he hasn’t had the easiest road. But he might have finally caught a break in the form of two beautiful studs for sale that would be perfect for his stock. The problem is Jonah doesn’t have the funds, or any means of getting them—until an old friend shows up with a proposition.

Virginia Leeland wants to build something of her own. The daughter of a traditional family, she refuses to stand behind a husband…she wants to stand on her own two feet. Still, she’ll take advantage of the money bequeathed to her by her grandmother and use it to buy Jonah’s beautiful old barn to host weddings in. The funds, however, are only available upon her marriage, so it’s a good thing she’s engaged.

But when Virginia catches her no-good, cheating fiancé, well, cheating on her, the marriage plans dry up, along with the funds for her business, and Jonah’s plans for expansion. The situation seems hopeless. That is, until Virginia has a champagne-fueled epiphany: she and Jonah can marry. In name only, of course.

But when their agreement becomes more than simply a marriage by name, their passion creates all types of entanglements: the enjoyable kind, as well as the more permanent sort. In the end, Virginia and Jonah will need to decide if they still only care about their business goals…or if the chance at love is what will really make their dreams come true.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m starting to feel the burnout of so many books by Leslie North in a row, but I must push just a little bit longer… because I only have one left and I will clear (almost) my ARC list!! This second book of the Grant Brothers hasn’t helped me to take this quest with more enthusiasm. It’s all too correct and simple. Nothing to be mad or happy about.

The second Grant brother is Jonah, the horse breeder (it sounds horrible. but I promise there is not bestiality involved) who wants a couple of studs to improve his stock. Sadly, those horses cost a pretty penny and he won’t be able to get his dreams without help. Here enters Virginia, a friend from his childhood who is about to inherit a small fortune thanks to her impending wedding. She offers Jonah some money in exchange of one of his barns to perform wedding ceremonies. All seems good, until the future husband becomes a cheater and all their plans are destroyed. Except there is a simple solution: a fake marriage between Jonah and Virginia to inherit the money. Is all as fake as they claim it to be?

This is not the first fake relationship book I have read, but it is the first where the main couple gets wed as part of the pretension. In this case is even the very first step, which I found very weird. They needed the money, but it wasn’t a life or death scenario. They could have survived just fine without the extra influx, so I find very strange that a couple of adults would go to those lengths in order to get some dollars. Is that even legal? There are so many details that could have gone wrong. A marriage is a bonding in many levels, but these two didn’t think too much about it. I guess they are the adventurous type, but in my opinion they are risking much more than what they are getting. And why Jonah’s brother, Ian, seemed OK with all of that? His support is strange…

Setting aside my doubts about Jonah and Virginia being intelligent beings, I must say the story is enjoyable. The pace is just slow enough to make the reconnection between the main characters believable. Their love story develops little by little, but in a somehow realistic way for such weird start point. They really get to know each other and learn how to function as a couple, so I must congratulate the author on that; because the previous books by Leslie I have read had a a very weak romantic component. The mandatory fight to bring drama wasn’t as forced as in other stories, but the resolution of the conflict lacks emotion. The main problem with this book is that it is 100% correct, but utterly unremarkable. I don’t think I’m going to remember any of it by the end of the year.

That lack of significant moments in the story (good or bad) is also translated into the characters. There is nothing noteworthy about them. Nothing that makes me cringe or makes me smile. Tailored personalities for the story. I prefer loving or hating them… this in between is just so bland. Dull story + dull characters = dull book. Thanks to the short length, I can’t say the book is boring; but some spice would have worked wonders. Some funny moments or sexy banter. Something to stir the waters of the perfectly still lake where this story sits. So yeah, enjoyable story, but zero rush to leave an impression.

Taking into account that I have mentioned the unprotected sex as a negative part of the previous books, I must point out that in this one Virginia and Jonah behave like responsible adults. I know, I know. The same couple who fakes a marriage is smart enough to know that using protection is important. It’s good to see that I wasn’t a crazy guy living in a dystopian world…

The third borther is a guy called Nate and, so far, he is a mystery. One that I will unveil in the next book.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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