Review of MARRYING FOR KING'S MILLIONS by Maureen Child (see her website)
KINGS OF CALIFORNIA
Silhouette Desire #1862, April 2008
He can see the pressure coming already. His distributor has multiple ugly daughters and Travis King is a highly eligible bachelor. But Travis spots a way out--if he's already married, already has a wife, the pressure is off. With childhood friend Julie O'Hara handy, why not arrange a quick marriage of convenience, with the understanding that she'll go away in a year once the distribution agreement is done. Travis can certainly afford the money to pay her off. What he can't afford is a wife he doesn't love.
Julie O'Hara has learned the lessons of love. Her first husband dumped her and she's struggling to save enough to pursue her dream--opening a bakery. Travis promises enough money to make that easy, and he's not demanding sex--not that sex with Travis would be any hardship. Still, something about the whole deal feels wrong. When push comes to shove, though, Julie will do whatever she can for Travis--she's always had a soft spot in her heart for him. But when it turns out her first marriage was never officially divorced and her ex-husband/first husband starts blackmailing her second, a marriage of convenience based on friendship and shared needs looks likely to blow up.
Author Maureen Child brings sensual detail, the marriage of convenience fantasy, a super-wealthy hero, and capable writing to a couple of characters who just didn't work for me. Travis's motivation for seeking the marriage of convenience seemed weak--how about just saying no? Julie's motivation for agreeing was even weaker. But the real problem comes when the evil Frenchman (and first husband) Jean Claude Douchette starts his blackmail program. As Travis recognizes, Julie is already scheduled to do very well out of a short term marriage of convenience. Her motivation to bring in Jean Claude seems impossible. Moreover, once the news of Julie's bigamy comes out, Jean Claude's blackmail opportunities vanish--but Travis continues to hold suspicious thoughts toward Julie. Even harder to swallow is Julie's decision to meet with Jean Claude. Considering all she had to say was 'don't blackmail us any more,' and considering that she already knows photographers are following her, meeting up with Jean Claude seems to fall into the too-stupid-to-live classification.
Maureen Child puts down some pretty good prose. It's a shame these characters don't really live up to it.
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