This was my first foray into this author's writing, but hopefully not my last.
I found this to be an excellent use of the "marriage of convenience" trope, showcasing a romance between a still-grieving widowed football player and a somewhat effeminate Russian ballet dancer seeking and being denied asylum in the US, who get married avoid deportation and potential death in the homophobic climate of Mother Russia.
I adored Viktor, the ballet dancer and activist, who's not afraid to use his fame position to shine a light on homophobia and the persecution of LGBTQ people everywhere. He was loud in his advocacy, but also thoughtful and kind and generous and loving. And very insightful, too.
Isaiah on the other hand is much more reserved and chooses to live his life much more quietly, afraid to rock the boat, even though everyone knows he's gay, considering he was married to a man before his husband's untimely death. He's unwilling to confront homophobia in others, and prefers to focus on his football career and on raising the teenage son he and his late husband adopted. He's also still grieving and unwilling to open his heart to a second chance at love, thinking that it would diminish what he had before.
Viktor and Isaiah meet, spend a hot night together, but decide to part as friends. When Viktor's asylum request is denied and he's faced with having to return to Russia, Isaiah steps in and offers marriage and the subsequent Green Card, but takes sex completely off the table.
Isaiah is an interesting character. I was wondering many times whether his reluctance to live his life "out loud" was because of his career choice and the still rampant homophobia among NFL players/teams/coaches/owners, or because of his skin color, or because of his need to keep his son Evan safe and protected, or just because that's who he is - quiet, introverted, and perhaps just a little spineless.
Obviously, Isaiah's desire to keep a lid on Viktor's activism backfires spectacularly. But that's not the only thing that backfires - his plan to keep his hands off Viktor and not fall for the man crumbles just the same. For a lot of the book, there's a ton of tension in the relationship, and more often than not, I was angry with Isaiah for making Viktor feel like he had to walk on eggshells. There's clearly a power imbalance at play as well, what with Viktor dependent on keeping the marriage "alive" for as long as he has to until he's no longer in danger of losing his immigration status.
The two men have zero issues getting along in the bedroom, and there were plenty of steamy scenes inside. And still, Isaiah is reluctant to examine what he's feeling for Viktor, and ends up pushing the other man to his breaking point.
Of course, this being a romance, a HEA is expected and was delivered, in a grand romantic fashion when Isaiah pulls his head out of his ass, listens to his son, and runs after Viktor to grovel. While I loved the romantic conclusion, I was a little irked for two reasons. One, Isaiah's change of heart came way too quick for my taste, and two, he didn't have to grovel nearly long enough before Viktor took him back. Yes, yes, I know - the grand romantic gesture - but that didn't excuse the hurt Isaiah inflicted on Viktor before that.
Still, all's well that ends well, right?
I'm definitely interested in reading the next book in this series. The story flowed well, there were no massive time jumps or lulls in the plot, and the writing was not overly purple. The characters' actions and reactions were, for the most part, reasonable and realistic, and the dialogue felt organic as well.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. **
The best way to sum up Patrick and Renee is through the words of a familiar melody. The first line of an old Keith Whitley song fits this couple perfectly. I have always loved the tune, When You Say Nothing at All and in the opening verse of that song it says " It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart." Simple words, perfect description, beautiful sentiment. Ms. Young managed to convey a ton of realistic emotion in a classically uncomplicated story. The most gifted of artists are not remembered for the words they say or the things they do but the magic they leave behind. That is how A Husband By New Year's made me feel. Like I was standing in the presence of something special.
This book is very similar to Stephen King's Rose Madder which I just happened to have read last month. The basic story line is the same.
An abused wife is put in the hospital by her husband but she can't get help because her husband is a cop. The other local police don't believe he would abuse his wife and just take his word for it that she is clumsy. When he comes to visit her in the hospital her tells her she better keep quiet or he'll finish the job next time. She knows he will. She finally comes up with a plan to escape with her son and lives for several years before he figures out what happened and comes looking for her. She had just met someone and had fallen in love with him but she knows she can never marry him because she is still married to her husband.
I enjoyed this book even though I don't like romance. The story kept me interested and even when I wasn't reading I was thinking about it.
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Driven into exile years earlier, due to family scandal, Declan Sinclair is called home, devastated to discover his brother has been murdered and he’s the new Duke of Darington. When clues point to the man he blames for both his exile and his brother’s death, Declan resolves to ruin the culprit. If only the daughter of the man’s business partner, lovely Lady Alethea Swinton, didn’t tempt his resolve. Lady Alethea Swinton has cultivated her pristine reputation in the hopes of winning her father’s praise. When her childhood friend returns, Alethea finds she’s willing to court scandal and defy her father to help the handsome Declan uncover the truth behind his brother’s death. Until she realizes Declan’s redemption will mean her family’s ruin.
Venture capitalist Cameron Price is a workaholic and great at his job, but his boss is convinced Cam needs a more balanced life. A wife on his arm would prove Cam’s the right man to take over the company. When a gorgeous caterer cooks up the perfect event and catches Cam’s eye, he proposes an innovative arrangement they’ll both benefit from. Lauren Brody knows Cam’s plan is crazy, but pretending to be his fiancée will allow her access to networking at events she’d never get into otherwise. It could be just the break she needs to get her catering business on the map and book the kind of clients she’s always dreamed of cooking for. If she can convince Mr. Buttoned Up Tight to have some unscheduled fun along the way, theirs could be a perfect arrangement.
NFL football player Isaiah Blackwell lost his husband three years ago and is raising their teen son alone. He lives his life as quietly as his job allows, playing ball to support his family but trying not to draw unwanted attention. His quiet life is shaken up when a mutual friend introduces him to Victor, a visiting principal ballet dancer who is everything Isaiah is not. Brash, loud, and gender fluid Victor Aleksandrov has applied for political asylum to avoid returning to Russia, where gay men are targeted and persecuted. He’s been outspoken about gay rights in his home country, and if he doesn’t get asylum, going back to Russia is a death sentence. Their one-night stand turns into a tentative friendship, a relationship they both agree is temporary…until Victor’s denied asylum. Isaiah can’t offer Victor a happily ever after, but he can propose something that’ll keep Victor in the US and safe. . .marriage He just doesn’t expect his new husband to dance away with his heart.
Kassidy Thomas decided to stop hiding behind her past, and start living, but she didn’t quite bet on that start including her singing a horrible song in front of the handsomest bachelor in the NFL, Wyatt Hamilton. She also doesn’t think he’d then consequently ask her out on a date, but turns out when you’re actually living life…crazy things happen. He needs to win… Wyatt Hamilton is a player in every sense of the word. Married to the game, he has no interest in relationships, love, or even second nights with the same woman. But from the second the girl-next-door beauty Kassidy knocks on his door to deliver a singing telegram, nothing goes as planned. He can’t stop thinking about her, and keeps showing up on her doorstep for more. That is, until the unthinkable happens… And all bets are off.
His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Isaiah & Victor have a flash of sexy in their past that may come back to bite them. Isaiah is offering to help Victor stay here in America. To go home for him would be death. Isaiah struggles with this, since he is very attracted to Victor and has a hard time staying hands off.
Victor is starting to have real feelings for Isaiah. He finds the many parts of his personality very attractive and knows he is falling for him. How do you find love when the person you care for has no interest in falling?
This book was really sexy. I loved the interaction with the characters. The pages sizzle with electricity from the main characters chemistry. I love that the backstories of both are varied, diverse, and very real and easy to understand. Really good read.
***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and its publisher.
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