Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Series Review: For Hire

For Hire series
by Christine Bell
Book #1: Wife for Hire | Goodreads | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #2: Guardian for Hire | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars

Average Rating:  3.75 Stars

I'm going to be totally honest here:  The two of these For Hire books were so small and bite-sized that they were done and over before I knew.  But I enjoyed the heck out of them!

I definitely went into both books in this series expecting a standard fluff piece with the standard romance, the standard story line, and the standard characters.  And they pretty much delivered in that sense.  But at the same time, they were so much more!  I don't know if it has to do with the characters, the writing style, or that subtle bit of humor.

Or maybe it happened to be that, despite the standard story, standard romance, and standard characters, our two leading ladies were also a bit different than the standard depiction of the standard romance novel heroine.  And maybe that was what made all the differences.

He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until the first time a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

Wife For Hire has one of my more favorite romance novel tropes: The Pretend Marriage.  Two perfect strangers coming together and pretending to be involved for some sort of purpose.  In this case, I guess the purpose wasn't a bad one, involving investigating a scam.  Of course, it had been a little disconcerting, the circumstances of how Lindy and Own had met--Owen places an ambiguous ad in the paper requesting an "attractive female" with acting experience for a pretty high sum of salary.  Honestly, why Lindy even contacted him even after side-eyeing the ad was a bit face-palmingly strange; if this book had been a crime thriller, she'd be one of the victims already dead since page five.

But being that this is more of a romantic comedy type of contemporary, Owen isn't a good looking serial killer; he's just a good looking love interest.  Of course, I DO appreciate the fact that Lindy DOES second guess her own decisions in, first contacting Owen about the position in the first place, and secondly, letting him into her home for the interview.

Anyway, moving past that, the rest was pretty quick and straight forward.  Lindy was turning out more and more like the general Mary Sue of most romance novels, but at least she remained grounded.  Then as the book progressed, I finally pinpointed the reason why Lindy's Mary Sue character traits didn't really bother me all that much.

Lindy is definitely a Mary Sue--being able to do everything really well, and being well-liked, and generally just being almost perfect.  But one thing that sets her apart from a lot of other heroines with these same characteristics, that ultimately cemented my love for her was quite simple.

She's got an awesomely bad case of embarrassing and quirky verbal diarrhea.  When she gets nervous, she comes up with the most outrageous things to say.  And it's pretty awesome!  In fact, the further I read through this short book, the more I found Lindy's personality to be less Mary Sue and more eccentric.

And it was pretty awesome.

Psychologist Sarabeth Lucking’s life is turned upside down when the upscale couples’ retreat she works for winds up embroiled in the biggest scandal of the year. With her reputation in tatters, she can’t imagine things getting worse, until her former co-workers are murdered, one by one. A bad-ass, ex-Army Ranger might be able to keep her safe, but something tells her she’s getting more than she bargained for...

Gavin McClintock grew up on the streets of Edinburgh, and protecting prissy Dr. Stick-Up-Her-Rear isn’t high on his list of things to do. Still, a promise is a promise, and he’ll need a clear head if he’s going to keep her off the growing list of victims. He didn’t count on the fire in her, or how distracted he’d be by her. As the flames grow hotter, he starts to wonder if she’s the one who needs protecting.

Will Sarabeth and Gavin outrun a killer and give into the passion burning between them?

Guardian For Hire was more my kind of book, with the bodyguard trope and all.  But despite being more of a romantic suspense than the first, it was surprisingly mellow on the suspense and much more fascinating as a romance.  In fact, little to none suspense actually happens except at the beginning and the very end of the book.

I'm not complaining, really, because the rest of the book was just as entertaining anyway.

And much like Lindy, Sarabeth was tons of fun.  Definitely NOT a Mary Sue to begin with, it's kind of amusing to watch as all her little embarrassing quirks surface over time despite the prim and proper, independent woman vibe she tries to put out.  In fact, there were several scenes in which I really DID feel a blushing case of second-hand embarrassment for her.

She becomes overly paranoid, and has moments where her imagination gets the better of her.  Her mind wanders on the strangest logic pathways, and it just kind of reminds me how anyone's mind would wander given enough reason.

The scene that stands out the biggest in my mind is when she's all dressed in security company uniform, trying on the "disguise" that Gavin has given her while she's in hiding.  She's just standing there, looking at herself in the mirror, acting all badass with finger guns and her "pyew pyew"-ing at herself in the mirror.  We've all done that at some point in our lives, I'm sure.  And we've all been caught playing pretend as well with a cringe of embarrassment.

It was a lot of fun following the interactions between Sarabeth and Gavin.

This particular book DID try to get a little deeper and heavy than the previous, but it was handled pretty well, even if it was kind of cast off in favor of the romance.  In fact, a lot of the story lines seemed to fizzle away, which I suspect is due to the shortness of the book itself.  And Gavin DID start off as kind of a jerk, but as the story progressed, I kind of forgot about the fact that he was being quite insensitive to a woman who had just witnessed her car exploding.

I also forgave him for lopping off Sarabeth's hair like it was just overgrown weed.  I get that it was crucial to change her appearance and all, but a girl's hair is always sacrosanct and a bad haircut can go all ways into screwing with her self-esteem for a long time.  But Sarabeth got up and moved on, and that was a good start.

Overall Thoughts
As I'd already stated, there was something pretty standard and clichéd about both books, but at the same time, the characters might have made me enjoy things much more.  Also there was a lot of humor along for the ride.

Story-wise, neither of the two For Hire books are really much to write home about.  Pretty typical stuff and the romances did lean towards the sap as the ending rolled around.  But the couples were cute and sweet with each other, and their interactions were lots of fun.

It seemed this was a duo of books that is perfect to wind down with after a long few days of busy workload.  Fun, sexy, cute, and comical.

There are a plethora of other characters in both books that I'm quite interested in.  So I'm hoping that Christine Bell decides to continue this series.  There are just too many potentially fun character who definitely need their time at center stage.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

COYER Summer Vacation 2016
-- Wife For Hire -- Bingo Board One | Square C21 -- Contemp
-- Guardian For Hire -- Bingo Board One | Square Y13 -- Rom Com

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