Dina Maitland spends almost as much time extricating her movie star mother from personal messes as she invests in her forensic accounting job. So much time, she may no longer have a job once she cleans up her mother's latest fiasco, her engagement to a twenty-something film student. Vowing it's the last time she puts herself on clean-up duty, Dina sets off for South Carolina to stop the pending nuptials, and along the way, almost literally, runs into the father of the groom.
Ben Cutler has troubles of his own with his business under attack from competitors and a government audit looming. Not one to trust women, he must team up with Dina to balance his books as well as stop the wedding.
Though unwillingly thrown together Dina and Ben are surprised to find their interest and passion for each other growing. Can they face their pasts in order to create a union of their own?
Cover: Love it. It's cute and quirky. A very good fit for the story.
What's a girl to do when her fifty-year-old actress mother wants to marry a film student in his twenties? Barbara Barrett answers this important question in her delightful romantic comedy, DRIVEN TO MATRIMONY. The story starts off with a kick that includes witty banter, comedic attempts by the heroine to drive a stick shift, and the hero having to change his pants in full view of a busy road.
Dina Maitland is a smart, (mostly) competent modern woman who has spent years policing the activities of her bohemian mother. She's quick witted and funny. I really loved the somewhat sneaky aspect of her personality that led her to share a rental vehicle with the groom's sexy father without revealing her secret identity for several hours, and lying to conceal a ruined map, even though it meant making up fake directions off the top of her head. The deceptions were relatively minor and not malicious but they gave Dina a fun level of complexity often lacking in modern romance heroines. (C'mon, don't you get at least a little tired of the heroine who is so guileless that she cannot tell a lie?)
Which leads up to one of my favorite lines from the entire book:
Ben Cutler is a great foil for Dina. The man possesses edgy sarcasm while still being a basically nice fellow who swerves to avoid hitting bunnies on the road. Ben only wants what's best for his son, which does not include marrying a woman old enough to be his grandmother. The shared goal of stopping the wedding gives Dina and Ben a common cause to work together to achieve.“Let’s get going, then.”
She walked back to the car in a semi-trance, not believing what she’d witnessed.
He must have noticed that she wasn’t totally engaged, because he asked, “What’s up? You look
“I am. I’ve never witnessed a man asking for directions. All the lost men in my life like to stay that way. Against the code or some sort of man thing to admit it.”
He chuckled. “Sorry to disappoint. Although the rest of my life may be going in circles right now, I can’t afford to waste time navigating by the stars tonight.”
Romantic sparks fly right from the story's start, but not between the would-be bride and groom. Ben happens to be an independent businessman with financial woes and auditors breathing down his neck. As luck would have it, Dina is a forensic accountant. (At this point I'm envisioning dead numbers on an autopsy table.) Anyway, she agrees to help him get his books in order while they plot anti-wedding tactics, which results in them spending even more time together. The discovery of embezzlement and the potential threat of Ben losing his company act to provide additional layers of suspense.
I liked that the number of secondary characters was limited to just a handful, allowing for a fuller development of the supporting cast. Dina's mom, Jocelyn, and Ben's son, Rick, are both interesting and likeable characters.
There are more comedic encounters, snappy dialogue, and some sex-capades. Love scenes are spicy with plenty of sizzling charisma between the hero and heroine. The author delivers a totally unexpected hook right before the grand finale, the Happily Ever After ending. DRIVEN TO MATRIMONY is a great read for anyone looking for a funny and enjoyable romantic comedy.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. The theme of her writing, “Romance at Work,” reflects her fascination with the jobs people do and infiltrates her plots almost to the point of becoming secondary characters.
A member of Romance Writers of America and several of its affiliate chapters, she was first “published” in sixth grade when a fictional account of a trip to France appeared in her hometown newspaper, the Burlington Hawk Eye. Years later, she was fortunate enough to actually visit the country, although in her earlier writing she never envisioned she would trip on a curb near the Arc d’Triomphe and have to limp her way through the Louvre.
Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” She is married to the man she met in dormitory advisor training her senior year of college. They have two grown children and six grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she’s busy lunching with friends or playing Mah Jongg.
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