by Virginia Heath
Publication: November 9, 2021
Series: The Merriwell Sisters #1
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Hugh plans to never marry, even if his meddling mother wishes him to. To stave her off from trying to find him a bride, he invents a fake fiancée. The plan has worked out well except now his mother plans on visiting. He needs to look for a fake fiancée or face a real one his mother will likely find for him if his ruse is discovered. He is saved from his fate when he intervenes on Minerva’s behalf, but, as the tagline states, the first rule of a fake engagement is to never fall for your fiancée.
The book was recommended by a fellow blogger, and I couldn’t resist reading it. A few pages in, and I already decided I liked Hugh. How could I not? He is notorious for being a rake. He tries his utmost to live up to his reputation, but as the layers are peeled back, it begins to emerge that there’s more to him than he lets on. A lot of the humor comes from him with his penchant for joking around and having fun. I also appreciated the depth of his character, which added to why this was such a good read and why I wanted to smack him over the head by the end.
Minerva, being the oldest, carries the burden of watching over her sisters and taking care of them. Although hesitant at first, she accepts Hugh’s proposition because the sisters are in desperate need of money. While I’ve been a bit turned off by the interclass-poor/rich romance trope, its use here easily explains away why she would ever choose to accept the proposition. (Can someone make me this proposal too? I’d like a fake engagement and real love too…) Minerva is easy to like, and before long she’s able to chip away at Hugh’s easygoing demeanor to find out who he is. They bring out good qualities in each other.
The characters have depth with detailed backstories. The sisters and Hugh’s best friend are not relegated to the background. Enough is provided about them to care about their future stories. I adore Diane and cannot wait to find out what happens with her. I hope Vee grows and flourishes in the next book because I want to like her as much as I like both Minerva and Diane. Vee was mildly irritating in this one. Above all, Payne is my favorite butler. He knows Hugh all too well and gets away with being cheeky. He steals the show when he is in a scene. Hugh’s mother is also another favorite with her devious nature, and her relationship with Hugh is a highlight in the novel. Like mother, like son…which explains a lot here and leads to laughs.
Never Fall for Your Fiancée employs the contract relationship/fake fiancée trope between characters with different means. There are plenty of laughs as well as longing eyes and quickening heart rates. It’s mostly a light read but includes compelling character backstories. Readers will come away satisfied from the ending while also looking forward to the next addition to the series.