It has been several years since I have felt motivated to read novels back to back. Yet here I am, finally with two books in one week! Time for cake! I want to point out before I go any further that 1. I absolutely loved reading this book and 2. SPOILERS ABOUND. If you hate spoilers (’cause these ones are not subtle), maybe just bookmark this post and come back once you too have read the book.
Book: The Prenup by Lauren Layne
Blurb: My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother’s best friend. I haven’t seen him since. Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her.
Enter Colin Walsh, her brother’s quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape. He’s far from Charlotte’s dream guy as but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte’s inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.
Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months. Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning…
How did I find this book: I loved Lauren Layne’s The Walk of Shame so I went searching for her and borrowed her only two books my library held.
Meet Cute: One of my favourite ways for a couple to meet – Colin is the man-bun donning best-friend of Charlotte’s brother who needs a green card to stay in the USA. Charlotte is a rebel and hates living at home but needs to marry to get access to her inheritance. Charlotte’s brother orchestrates their marriage, and without either of them knowing, he adds a clause in their prenup stipulating that they cannot divorce unless they live together for 3 months. Neither the young groom or the young bride read the prenup and just sign it and go their separate ways – Colin to his job in New York City and Charlotte to San Fransisco to get as far away from her parents as she can.
Early during their 10 years apart, Colin and Charlotte decide that they are both welcome to have their relationships and both do, especially as the aren’t in the same city, this isn’t an issue for them. At the 10 year point, a dapper, hunky Colin contacts Charlotte and asks for a divorce. When they realise that their prenup has a “must live together for 3 months” clause, Charlotte moves back to New York City to work through that time. Her move also is part of her reconciliation with her parents whom she has barely seen while she lived in San Francisco.
As per any close proximity romance story, Charlotte and Colin become friends, and the sparks fly, despite the two of them never acting on their attraction. And the reason for this is (SPOILER ALERT!!!) that Colin is actually engaged to another woman. Rebecca comes into the story at a moment wear Charlotte is in her sexy jimmy jams and had just given Colin a bunch of flowers in his bed (totally legit no-sexual reasons), which of course, creates tensions and jealousies, including the shock that Charlotte has when she realises her faux-husband has a real-fiancee. Colin’s immediate reaction is to apologise to Charlotte where she responds to him with
“You’re married to me for fake. If you’re going to marry her for real, I’m really not the one you should be grovelling to right now”.
Look, every single romance reader knows that grovels are only given to the one you truly love, and even though it takes Colin near to the end of the book to work this out, Charlotte is just a master of sit-back-and-wait, though even she (along with the reader, I must stress!!!) is stretched to the limits of understanding, hurt feelings buried deep and all. The real-fiancee provides a pivot point for Charlotte to realise her feelings for her husband, but for a good two months she keeps silent as he continues dating Rebecca, slowly breaking Charlotte’s heart. To add to this, Colin and Charlotte are also being investigated by Immigration for marriage fraud where it is Charlotte who just pulls out all stops and does this completely secret grand gesture that made me want to hug her and certainly made her mum hug her when she found out. The story all moves along at a strong pace and of course, there is a loving ending (not in a threesome kinda way).
Will they last: An emphatic Yes. Absolutely. No doubt about it. Also, as this book is written pre-Covid, I would say that lockdown for these two will strengthen their relationship. They just needed to be in a room together in the first place!
Feelings: When I started reading The Prenup I was in a grumpy mood and at first I was annoyed by the cashed up, entitled, New York, Upper East Side, spoiled brat heiress I was reading about. But then as the book progressed, I warmed to her, and by the end I deeply engaged and really wanted her to get her man. I also remembered that in the previous Lauren Layne books I have read, the heroine is usually rich and seems to be flippant, but Layne just works her writing magic and imbues character growth and charm and sparkle to her protagonists.
It wasn’t until the book ended that I realised that Colin and Charlotte’s interactions were really sexy, sparks flying everywhere, yet there was no sex on the page, in fact there was barely a kiss, and even the alluded-to sex was only right at the end. Thinking about this book, it has so many elements of a category romance in its plotting, but the contemporary application of these plots, with chapters named by date, social and sexual mores that push some reader boundaries and also make it different from category romances. After I wrote most of this review I went to Goodreads and read other readers opinions just to find people who hated the book because of the “Other Woman” and how dare Colin date while actively married, and I must admit that this did not even occur to me to be an issue. Perhaps because I am still comfortable in that retro 1970s-1980s romance where the hero strings along an evil-other-woman right to the end. ANY PLOT DEVICE WILL DO IF IT CAN CONVINCE ME THAT THE MAIN COUPLE HAVE TRULY TRUE LOVE!
Written in the first POV usually doesn’t work for me, but with this book it did. I would have liked to have known Colin’s POV too, especially as in relation to his Rebecca the Other Woman. How? Why? What was he thinking? Did he not realise that he loved Charlotte? Was her grand gesture the moment he realised he was messed up having both a real-wife and faux-fiancee? Faux-wife and real-fiancee? Anyway, all this worked for me. Charlotte reconciling with her parents worked for me. Charlotte confronting her brother of the dodgy prenup clause worked for me. The unapologetic use of an evil-other-woman trope worked for me. Charlotte and Colin sparkling friendship worked for me. I feel happy and chuffed. A well-paced, thoughtful book that made me laugh. Finally!
This book was borrowed from a NSW public library.