Author: Hayson Manning
Blurb: Trapped in a loveless marriage, Zoe Hughes escaped to make a new life for herself on the tiny island of Tonga. Now she runs a successful boutique honeymoon resort. Selling true love is easy. No one needs to know she’s married in name only. At least until America’s premier honeymoon magazine wants to publish a feature on her perfect marriage. Now she must convince her estranged husband to rip himself away from plotting corporate takeovers in LA to save her island paradise.
Rory agrees to come for forty-eight hours, but only because he needs the positive PR. To his surprise, the wife he finds in Tonga isn’t the same woman he married. Now she’s so much more…
When a storm strands Rory in Tonga, will he win back his wife or leave paradise empty-handed?
Thoughts: The title for this was kind of misleading – for me anyway. They aren’t really married in name only – their marriage actually started out as a true marriage in every meaning of the word. But over time as they both grew and changed, and they became estranged from each other. Rory became a workaholic and his own drive to succeed pulled him away from Zoe and their marriage. And he doesn’t even realize that the marriage is over – he just believes that Zoe needs some time to “get her head on straight”.
For Zoe, her husband sending a mass text out to her along with his office staff “advising” her that he would be out of the office for three days – after he had already rescheduled her three times previously – was the final straw. She decides to leave the life they have together, and strike out on her own. She creates a business of her own in the form of a honeymoon resort. It has gained quite a bit of popularity, but there is one small problem: she has left everyone with the impression that she is happily married! So, when a magazine wants to do a story and the resort – and on Zoe and Rory’s marriage – she needs a “real” husband, and not just one who has been photoshopped in! Rory needs some good press himself, so when his beautiful wife calls – a deal is struck!
The book is oddly reminiscent of a old Loveswept or Harlequin romance novel. So much so, that I found myself wondering if I had read the story before. That’s not to say the book isn’t good – it is – but throughout the book I kept trying to remember where – and if – I had read it before. The book is not a re-issue, but it hit enough similarities for me that it provided a bit of a distraction when reading it. With that said, it is a really sweet story about love that’s lost and rediscovered.
Zoe was a genuinely nice character who was easy to sympathize with, and Rory had enough sweet moments to allow you to forgive him when he acted like a jerk. Toward the end, you really begin to feel for him because it becomes apparent that he really didn’t understand or realize how very much he had changed over the years. And what the changes were doing to his wife. the question is – are they better off together – or apart? If you’re looking for a sweet romance, this book is for you!