Title: An Inconvenient Love
Author: Alexia Adams
Publisher: Crimson Romance
I honestly can’t believe I’ve never read a “marriage of convenience” romance before. There’s a lot out there, but this was my first experience reading one. I received a giveaway copy from the author; I wanted to finally try the “marriage of convenience” trope it seems like everyone else has read.
All right, so down to business – I LOVED the heroine, which is rare for me in romance novels. Usually I like the hero more, because most romance books tend to paint the girl a bit helpless and… well, kinda useless. But Sophia was the opposite. She’s hard-working and determined and all sorts of I-can-root-for-you character goodness. When introduced, she’s very prim and works as a secretary. Over time, the reader learns she has a dark past she tries to keep hidden.
Sophia’s worked hard all her (reformed) life and jumps at the opportunity to marry the wealthy and successful Luca (who wouldn’t?) who whisks her away from her working-class world in England into a beautiful villa in Italy. Her husband, Luca, is written as a handsome and responsible Italian businessman who basically wants a wife because all the other businessmen have one. Yeah, his reason for marriage isn’t great. But even while she knows this, she’s not Mrs. Crazy either. While she hopes the marriage may eventually lead to love, financial security is the most important thing to her.
Once they arrive in Italy, Luca pretty much completely ignores Sophia and goes all “I-need-to-work-beep-boop-Robot-Luca-works-only.” And the wedding was so beautiful! There was so much potential for them to connect but of course, since Luca’s never been in such a committed relationship before, he doesn’t know how he should act around her. Thus, a very frustrated Sophia and a very sad reader.
Thankfully, Sophia Our Strong Heroine doesn’t let it bother her. She’s got her own career plans, of course. She starts to set up an interior design business with one of Luca’s friends. Sophia’s passionate about her career, especially considering her troubled upbringing. While her marriage no longer requires her to worry about money, she’s determined to use her improved position to earn an income on her own terms.
Thank goodness the book didn’t have insta-love. The relationship between Sophia and Luca grows over time from mutual respect and slow-burning attraction. As both of their careers progress, so does their relationship. Yet as soon as they’ve established some semblance of love, the rug’s pulled out from under them both. Luca’s offered a career-defining contract and Sophia gets the opportunity to take her interior design business to The Next Level … on the condition that they live apart from one another for several months and put their newly-minted marriage in jeopardy.
One of the (few!) downsides to this book were some of the supporting characters. There’s one character, Jonathan, who’s introduced as one of Sophia’s neighbors in Italy. The two become friends and hang out together, which sparks initial jealousy in Luca… and then Luca forgets all about him. Jonathan was sort of introduced, played a part for two scenes, and then was never mentioned again. Which is fine, I understand he’s a supporting character. I just felt like he didn’t serve much purpose in the novel at all.
Additionally, there’s a B-list soapstar named Kathy Summers who randomly shows up in the beginning and for some reason Sophia’s super scared of her. The bitter backstory between the two is later explained, but I kept wanting Sophia to get some sort of revenge against what Kathy did, a la Alias style.
That being said, any annoyance I felt over the supporting characters was quickly forgotten as soon as Sophia explains her tough childhood to Luca. No spoilers, but it’s pretty heart-wrenching. Again, it just solidified my love for Sophia more. She’s in a classic situation a lot of women struggle with today – career or marriage? Luca faces the same choice as well, but it’s clear the author stresses that Sophia has more on the line to lose.
Alexia Adams is great at developing characters! I loved how none of the characters were flawless. In romance novels, flawed characters are essential. The hero has to be swoon-worthy, but too much perfection makes him yawn-worthy. The heroine should serve as a role model of some sort, but still remain realistic. An Inconvenient Love creates complex characters with enough redeeming qualities to keep the reader rooting for them! Both have their imperfections: Luca is a workaholic and Sophia has serious trust issues. But they also balance each other out perfectly. Since Sophia’s a reformed rebel and Luca’s Mr. Responsible; it works out.
Also, read the book if you love travel and international settings (beautiful Italy! urban England!). The descriptions are gorgeous and made me want to visit Italy all over again.