Author: Misty Provencher
Release date: November 19th 2012
Publisher: Misty Provencher
Paperback, 190 pages
Source: Author for review
Hale Simmons dreams of climbing out of her impoverished life, going to college, and getting herself a titanium crash helmet, so she can eventually bust through the Plexiglas ceiling of her crappy life. But for now, she’s just a 18-year-old girl with a flimsy hope, barely getting by with her alcoholic father, Jerry.But for Hale, ‘crappy’ suddenly takes a nosedive, when Jerry becomes the sole witness to a horrible accident. It is an event which means to effect everyone, especially Hale, who wasn’t even involved.While the depth of the accident has just begun to unfold, Otto Maree, a prominent business man and old family friend, stands to lose everything because of it. Otto is desperate for Hale’s father to stay quiet about what occurred the night the two men met for a drink. Out of mutual moments of desperation, the two fathers forge a deal. Jerry is desperate to gain financial stability for both himself and Hale, and Otto Maree is more than willing to pay to keep his secret just that.But deals like this need to be made of the strongest vows and bound with the most faithful of loyalties. Otto proposes a marriage between Hale and his playboy-son, Oscar, in order to assure that the secret remains ‘in the family’. The mystery surrounding the accident continues to grow and Hale struggles against her own mysterious feelings that begin to develop for Oscar, who turns out to less of a playboy, but just as fiercely loyal and dedicated as his father.As the pressure around her continues to escalate, Hale realizes that she’s got to decide if this arranged marriage is really just a big mistake or an amazing twist of fate that has been waiting around for this particular accident to happen.
With Hale Maree, Misty Provencher proved once again that she’s very good at thinking outside the box. Arranged marriage is a reality in many places all over the world, but we rarely think about it in the First World context. There aren’t many authors I know of who’d be courageous enough to publish a New Adult contemporary romance that features an arranged marriage, but with Misty Provencher, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
Oscar Maree and Hale Simmons have never met before, but they’re suddenly faced with two choices: they can either get married or risk sending both their fathers to jail. It doesn’t take long for Oscar to warm up to the idea, he sees something in Hale he’s never had before, and he’s hell bent on winning her over, but Hale’s emotions are a lot more complicated: at only 18, she’s hesitant to get into a serious relationship, let alone marriage; she doesn’t know OR trust Oscar, and she is deeply hurt by her father’s willingness to “sell” her to his childhood friend’s son.
Admittedly, their story was a bit odd at first, but it didn’t take long for me to warm up to the idea of seeing them together. Hale’s behavior made an unrealistic scenario more easily acceptable. If there’s one thing I struggled with just a bit, it’s Oscar himself. On the outside, he seemed like a perfect love interest, mostly because he behaved as one. He said and did all the right things all the time, but I’d hoped for some insecurity as well. Him being so sure of his intentions and feelings after having no more than a day to process the changes in his life was just a touch too unrealistic.
However, everything Oscar wasn’t, Hale was in spades. Her reactions and fears made perfect sense and I enjoyed her icy demeanor and slow thawing more than I can say. I liked seeing her completely unaffected by Oscar’s wealth, even after a life of abject poverty. In fact, my favorite part of this book wasn’t Hale and Oscar’s romance, it was Hale’s relationship with her father. I think Provencher approached that part extremely realistically, especially in the end. It is a sad fact that alcoholics don’t get better overnight, although they sometimes try very hard.
Hale Maree was made infinitely better by its secondary characters, especially Landon and Sher, Oscar and Hale’s best friends. Each of them was instantly likeable and well developed, so much so that a companion novel, Full of Grace, has been written about them.