by Winter Renshaw
408p. (with additional book, so about 202p.)
Synopsis via Goodreads:
It’s only pretend…
And it’s only three months.
I’m in the midst of scrawling “I QUIT!” onto his fancy cardstock letterhead when my boss corners me. He needs a favor, he says. And then he asks how well I can act …
Hudson Rutherford needs a fiancée.
With his old-moneyed parents forcing him to marry some bratty hotel heiress and his hedonistic, playboy lifestyle at stake, the only way to get them to back off is to make them think he’s truly, madly, deeply in love … with me—his third personal assistant this year.
But I can hardly stand working for him as it is.
Hudson is crazy hot and well-aware. He’s arrogant, spoiled, and silver-spooned. He checks me out when he thinks I’m not looking, and his life is a revolving door of beautiful women. Plus, he can’t even pronounce my name correctly—how’s he going to convince his family he’s in love with me?!
I’m seconds from giving him a resounding “no” when he flashes his signature dimpled smirk and gives me a number that happens to contain a whole mess of zeroes …
On second thought, I think I can swallow my pride.
But, oh baby, there’s one thing I haven’t told him, one teensy-tiny thing that could make this just a hair complicated …
Here’s hoping this entire thing doesn’t explode in our faces.
Mari is executive assistant to talented architect, Hudson, a man she hates beyond words. One day she finally works up the guts to quit her job and tell Hudson what she really thinks of him. Hudson, however, doesn’t react quite how Mari expected. Rather than getting angry, he actually offers her another job offer: legally marry him to prevent an arranged marriage by his parents… for $5 million.
There’s no insta-love in this story, which appeals to my realistic side, but it’s a little overdone. This is purely a business arrangement and it shows, so much that I didn’t really feel an emotional connection between Mari and Hudson. We gather from Hudson’s POV that he’s attracted to Mari, but there’s no tension and very little build-up. When they finally develop a physical relationship, you get more of an over-bubbling pot of sauce than the explosive fireworks you’re hoping for. Once their first dalliance is over, it appears as if they go a prolonged period of time without any more intimacy, nor do they even speak about what happened, leaving the reader in a limbo as to the progression of their relationship.
Early in the book, Mari discloses to the reader that she is pregnant by a one-night stand she had before becoming involved with Hudson. Of course, in order to not jeopardize losing the $5 million agreement she has with Hudson, she does not tell him about the pregnancy. So it’s obvious early on that a big, if not the big conflict of the story involves this secret. There is a twist regarding the baby’s father, but knowing from the third page what the downfall of their relationship will be prevents some of the excitement. The anxiety is there that as a reader, you’re aware that Mari is making a stupid decision and you have to read and just wait to find out the outcome is, making it somewhat anticlimactic.
Mari and Hudson are well-developed and convincing characters. Hudson first appears like a demeaning, arrogant jerk, and he is, but his past explains how he became that way. As the story evolves, it becomes obvious that that behavior is more of a false exterior to keep himself distanced from love and emotions. Mari is a strong, stubborn woman, but still has her insecurities and can sometimes be too stubborn. The secondary characters aren’t as multi-dimensional, which is understandable, considering we only witness them through the eyes of the H and h. I did appreciate that Hudson’s parents weren’t the stereotypical rich parents concerned more with image than the happiness of their son. That role has become way too commonplace in rich boy, poor girl romances.
The ending was incredibly abrupt. I can’t explain too much without giving spoilers, but let’s just say that if there was ever a time for just a little more dialogue between the main characters, this ending would’ve been it. If the author had written maybe two more pages, the conclusion would’ve been more satisfying and concise.
The Perfect Illusion is a sweet, entertaining romance with mild sexiness. No cheating or triggers involved.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.