Format Read: e-book provided by the publisher
Release Date: September 15th 2012
Number of Pages: 132 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats Available: Kindle Edition, e-book
Purchasing Info: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Author’s Website, Publisher
Pregnant and alone after her ex-lover’s death, magazine editor Ruby Fleming’s not about to give up her home to the man who broke her heart—until she discovers her mother left half of the estate to somebody else, and she realizes she’s trapped.
Property tycoon Christo Mantazis wants the one thing his riches can’t buy—the villa where his mother has lived and worked as housekeeper for forty years. That it’s the same house he was banished from after being caught making love to the owner’s irresistible daughter stirs up old memories, and now he wants her more than ever.
Stella: One of my alltime favourite tropes is the arranged marriage/marriage of convenience trope, so when I read the blurb of Barbara DeLeo’s Contract for Marriage I got excited! Not only it featured one of my fav tropes but it was a contemporary romance trying to pull off a marriage of convenience, I was curious and very enthusiastic! (and well you can imagine that also meant I had high expectations for the story)
Anna: I just have to say Stella that I also really loved the blurb of this title and I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Now that I finished it, I kind of have mixed feelings about the whole story and for a number of reasons… And it saddens me to say so but my main problem with Contract for Marriage were the characters… Both Christo and Ruby frustrated me with their decisions and actions in more than one case.
Stella: I agree Anna. Contract for Marriage had potential and promise, but sadly it fell short of my expectations, and when I thought back trying to find the reason for that I realized it was due to the characters. Sure, some of their reasons and actions were frustrating but I could even excuse some of them saying they were necessary to the plot and the trope, but what made this novel just “nice” instead of “spectacular” was that even at the end I felt like I didn’t know the characters, and that not only the reader was left in the dark as to their personalities and what makes them tick but the other characters as well. I didn’t feel that Ruby and Christo got to know each other, the grown up person that the other has become after 10 years apart. I felt that the characterisations were sketchy and barely there. After 132 pages I was only left with a shady impression of the hero and heroine, and that’s why despite my having finished Contract for Marriage only yesterday I only have some vague and blurred recollections of the story as a whole.
Anna: I so agree Stella with every single thing you say… As a reader I feel that I got to know both Christo and Ruby only on a superficial level, I didn’t really know them and as a result I couldn’t even begin to understand why they acted the way they did. As it is, most of their decisions come of as those of a calculative and dispassionate person, both qualities I don’t like in my characters.
Stella: I agree, but what makes it worse is that we are told that they changed their mind suddenly at the end of the story, but neither do we see, nor are we told why exactly. I couldn’t understand their motivations or see the path of realization they went through to revise their initial opinion regarding their whole arrangement/relationship.
Anna: No, nothing. It was like Christo was searching for an easy way to get the house he wanted for his mother and Ruby for a father and a house for her unborn child. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention of the author but sadly the whole story made me think exactly that.
Stella: Hm, interesting because I thought that was the author’s intention, for Ruby and Christo’s initial arrangement/point of view regarding their marriage. But I didn’t see how or what made it evolve into something more. I didn’t witness the emotional development in neither of the characters, despite being told how the sensual lovemakings made Ruby fall back in love with Christo. At least being a woman I can imagine a (pregnant) woman being more emotional and mixing feelings into a great sexual relationship, but as to when or why or how Christo realized he loved Ruby I’m still in the dark.
Anna: You didn’t witness it because there was no development… At least none that I could see myself too…
And you’re right about Ruby. I could sympathize with her or even understand her reactions because she was pregnant, even if her decisions weren’t exactly my favorite part of the story. But Christo spoke about their marriage and their relationship and negotiated its terms like it was a business plan. And I get it, but still, it was too cold-hearted for my taste…
Stella: I understood that at the beginning we, the readers had to see Christo as a no-nonsense, serious even ruthless businessman who considers this sham of a marriage mainly a means to an end arrangement, but I didn’t see when or how he revised his reasons for wanting it. And I sorely missed that. We didn’t see a change in Christo (because we learn even at the beginning that he can be generous and warm-hearted – as he had helped Ruby’s mother and uncle), but we don’t see why he really wants this marriage to work as a foundation for their future family and not just a convenient solution to get the house and grandchild for his mother.
Anna: Yeah Stella. And not being able to connect with the main couple is what ruined the whole story for me. Because when I can’t connect with the main couple, I just can’t get into the story. I don’t care what happens to them or if they get their happily ever after.
Stella: Yes, sadly since this was a romance novel, with no other subplot but just the development of the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine it felt empty without the necessary romance and its development. And that is my complaint about this story. That despite it being a romance novel there was not enough romance in it. Both the characterisations and how they fell in love was vague and just mentioned instead of being developed and portrayed.
Anna: Exactly! For a romance title there was simply not enough romance. The plot may be decent but since this story can’t deliver in its main department then the whole thing is a failure more or less…
And one last thing, was it my idea or death’s presence was too overwhelming in this novel? I mean everyone seems to be dead or has suffered an illness… It just made me feel depressed in the beginning of the novel rather than excited about starting a new story.
Stella: Well yes, this was not a light and rosy “romance”, I felt so sorry for Ruby for having lost both parents and being truly alone in the world (sure she had her uncles and aunts but no immediate family, sibling or parent).
Stella: I had so much hope and excitement for Contract for Marriage but sadly it didn’t manage to blow me away. It was a nice read, but I expected more. Both the hero and heroine felt underdeveloped, leaving me with only a vague recollection of them. And what I mourn even more besides the superficial characterisation is that their romance was not much present in the novel. Barbara DeLeo’s writing flew smoothly and she definitely holds some promise for future stories but Contract for Marriage just fell flat in the end.
I give Contract for Marriage 3 stars.
Anna: Contract for Marriage has a really interesting blurb but sadly it didn’t work for me despite how badly I wanted it to. I couldn’t connect with either of the main characters and the romantic part just fell flat for me. As a novel it flows quite nicely but if you’re searching for a toe-curling romance better search somewhere else.
I give Contract for Marriage 2.5 stars