Miss Bates went back and forth on several category romances for Wendy’s TBR Challenge January “short read” before settling on Christine Rimmer’s The Lawman’s Convenient Bride. No rhyme or reason why, except Rimmer is fast becoming a comfort read. The writing is solid and Rimmer always achieves a balance of humor and sentiment. She also really comes down strong on marriage and fidelity without being smarmy or righteous and The Lawman’s Convenient Bride certainly conveys this.
When the novel opens, sheriff-hero Seth Yancy is trying to stave off the president of the Justice Creek library association’s convincing argument in favour of his participation in a charity bachelor auction. From Seth’s opening thoughts, we learn that he has been celibate since a sad thing happened to him seven years ago. But community-minded, honourable, cannot-tell-a-lie Seth cannot resist the call of the library association cause and agrees, even though he’d do anything “to get out of being raffled like a prize bull.” In the meanwhile, he also learns, from this conversation, that the woman who was his deceased baby stepbrother’s lover is one month away from giving birth to his niece. This revelation brings Seth to heroine Jody Bravo’s flower-shop doorstep. They carry on a wary, if friendly conversation and responsibility-personified Seth convinces Jody to allow him to help her out and be a part of his step-niece’s life.
When Jody goes into labour while sundry brothers, sisters, and their wives and husbands are away, she calls on Seth, who gets her to the hospital and acts as her labour coach. Seth then moves in to help her out in the first few weeks of Marybeth’s life. Except he stays and … stays. Jody and he grow close: Jody recognizes all his caring, reliant ways. She is attracted to him. Seth likes her too. Their attraction, compatibility, genuine affection, and friendship see Seth propose to Jody and Jody accept. They think they have an understanding and everything in hand after they marry (promptly at the end of Marybath’s first month). But the heart will have its way and mess things up big-time. The lovely rhythm of Seth and Jody’s life – work, dinner, caring for Marybeth, sharing house and baby duties, then meeting in wild, scorch love-making – is disturbed by the desire for something more than a “convenient marriage”.
One of the novel’s most attractive aspects is how Jody and Seth’s past relationships come to bear on their future as husband and wife. This is the crux of what causes rifts and conflict in their relationship. Rimmer avoids the romance tendency to make mommy-and-daddy issues the cause of Jody and Seth’s marriage-in-trouble. Instead, she builds a great character in Seth by making him a man whose natural propensity is for the comforts of fidelity and marriage: ” ‘I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage – or without love, at least. Preferably both.’ ” Miss Bates thought Seth’s primness, his probity, was his most attractive aspect. But Rimmer did something interesting when she also made it the source of his betrayal.
Rimmer created a heroine who sees through Seth’s emotional barriers and calls him on each one. Jody is as likeable as Seth. She owns her feelings and needs. She’s forthright with others and honest with herself. Miss Bates likes that Rimmer’s heroes and heroines don’t play games and their relationships, while hurt and loss are present, work out so smoothly and well. At the same time, that is what makes the narrative stall in places, with the very ordinariness of life for two reasonable people who maturely work out their problems! Despite MissB’s quibble, Rimmer is, like Maisey Yates and Kate Hewitt, one of MissB’s comfort reads. The Lawman’s Convenient Bride is, to quote Miss Austen, “real comfort,” Emma.
Christine Rimmer’s The Lawman’s Convenient Bride is published by Harlequin Books. It was released in April 2017 and may be found at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from Harlequin Books, via Netgalley.