On a normal day, Emmaline Darling isn’t a car thief. She’s just a simple girl who runs a bookstore and adores cats. But when she’s stranded in the desert and needs to get away from her dangerous ex-boyfriend, she picks her only option: swiping the keys to a famous football player’s Lamborghini and speeding away.
Football star Graham Harlan is in chaos. First he took a hit on the field that left him with a near-death experience, and now he’s promised his brother he’ll get married to secure the family inheritance. Trouble is he isn’t even seeing anyone.
Then a mystery woman steals his car. With his usual stubbornness, he tracks her all the way to Manhattan and gives her an ultimatum: marry me or I’ll press charges. Her choice is obvious, only neither of them expect the sparks that ignite between them.
As the end of their arrangement looms, will Graham take a chance on love or let his darling walk away forever?
|My Darling Bride
|Marriage of Convenience
Sports Romance (American Football)
|Point of View:
|First Person, Present Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
|NYC, NY, USA
|5th December, 2023
A wonderfully, darling story
There’s something about Ilsa Madden-Mills’ writing that pulls me in and makes me obsessed from the very first page. Her stories just speak to me and I adore her every book. This particular story isn’t connected to any other story or series but Tuck and Francesca from Princess and the Player are name checked and Jasper, a hilarious side character from that book, also pops up in this one. So while it might become a book in the Strangers in Love series, the book stands completely alone and is complete with its own happily ever after.
We start with Graham – an American football player who, while winning the Super Bowl, has something of an incident when he, well, dies out on the pitch. Thankfully still alive (I don’t want anyone to think this is a ghost book!), Graham understandably is having something of an existential crisis after such a trauma. Which is where he meets Emmy – also having something of a crisis – out in Arizona, despite both hailing from New York. Their meet cute is hilarious but little do they know it’s only the beginning of their adventure.
At first, Graham is something of an enigma to both the reader and Emmy. He’s quite a stoic, enigmatic type of character – liking to keep himself and his walls firmly in place. Once we find out why – it’s completely understandable – and it’s nice to see him slowly start to thaw and soften the more time he spends with Emmy and in her world. He’s definitely a nice, kind and caring guy but I can’t help but also like his growly, grumpy, protective side. And he buys her a bookstore. That right there could be the only sentence in the book and I would have given it 5 stars. It’s the dream!
Emmy isn’t having the best time in her life when she first meets Graham and sure, she makes some questionable choices, but I couldn’t help but like her immensely from the get go. She has a lot going on but she’s still a sweet, kind and likeable character. She’s also no pushover and knows her worth – which I obviously admire. Like Graham, she had walls in place to protect herself, although hers come tumbling down pretty shortly when she spends time with Graham. She was determined to stay aloof but ultimately honest with herself and her feelings. I just loved her.
Graham and Emmy have fantastic chemistry and there’s definitely a spark between them – even when he’s pretending to be her honey bunny prison boyfriend. That spark fair combusts on several occasions and I revelled in it. Delicious! But apart from connecting on a sexual level – our couple also have a connection on a deeper level. They just fit together and, even while fighting it in the beginning (and a little in the middle and end, too), they are perfect for each other and is exactly what the other needs.
Normally secondary characters are just a nice addition for me but I really did love and enjoy all the supporting cast in this book. They never stole the show but I did love Brody, Cas, Andrew, Babs – and best of all Jane and Jasper. I need, need, need these two to get their own book. I’m already far too excited!
I adored this book and I’m actually a little bereft now that it’s done. This book has everything I could want from a romance – complex, likeable characters, deep connections, sweet romance with a good dose of banter, humour and fun. Definitely 5 stars.
* I received this book in exchange for my honest review *
Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her contemporary romances ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
Seven of her ten novels have placed in the Amazon US Store Top Six Best-seller List: Dirty English hit #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You hit #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things all placed #6 in the Amazon US Store. The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, hit #4.
A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.
She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.