The scheme is a PR stunt to rehab investment consultant Miles’s reputation as one of the worst bosses in Los Angeles. The prize for Stella: the money to start her own fashion line. Richardson grabs readers from the start with a sultry, unpredictable scene in Paris, which ends with Miles convinced that the “exasperating” but alluring Stella has rejected him for the scar that runs from chest to jaw. The story immediately leaps to the fathers’ proposal, then to Miles’s abashed realization that he needs to go along with it, and then right to what readers most want: these crabbing over boundaries and logistics while both pretending they’re not turned on.
Dialogue is crisp and memorable (Miles: “We should probably discuss the wedding.” Stella: “That’s one hell of a proposal, Miles.”), and the novel, despite its length, surges along, hinting at Miles’s secrets—he’s a voyeur, for one, with a glassed-in bedroom and a penchant for NDAs—jealousies, and scars both physical and emotional. The escalating scenes of physical intimacy are precise, vivid, and potent, and the happy ending, while inevitable, satisfies.
Takeaway: Superior marriage-of-convenience romance with sharp elbows and vivid clinches.
Comparable Titles: Sara Cate, Shain Rose.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A