Destined to Meet by Jessica Steele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not a terribly exciting story, but Destined to Meet has a charm to it. I love the British Harlequin Romances. They are nice fare to take me away from my existence and to read a nice love story.
Bevin meets Jarvis when she's horribly sick. She approaches him to do a survey on the street as part of her new job, and faints right in front of him. Jarvis ends up taking her home to his apartment to recover, for lack of anywhere else to take her, and the fact that he's drawn to her. She seems to be what was missing in his life, and she falls right into his arms. His sister shows up and assumes that Bevin is Jarvis's new squeeze. This is timely since his late grandfather's will requires him to marry before his next birthday. Bevin is still confused and sick when she answers the door and meets his sister, and unwittingly agrees when Rosalind suggests that she's Jarvis's fiance. This is good and bad news for Jarvis, because it gives him a buffer between him and his pushy relatives, although it also puts pressure on him to move up the wedding date.
What follows is a bit of comedy of manners, although it's not particularly humorous. Bevin's tendency to be tongue-tied when she's on the spot, and her gentle nature has her inadvertently agreeing to what the very pushy Rosalind suggests regarding her relationship with Jarvis, digging their hole deeper each time. Jarvis gets frustrated each time, but can't stay mad at the sweet angel he ended up bring home with him. Bevin and Jarvis go along with their "fake" engagement, and spend time together, coming to realize that they make each other's lives complete.
I have a weakness for these British Harlequins, so it was enjoyable to me on those grounds, although a bit slow-paced and drama free (I like my Harlequin drama--what can I say?). I felt Bevin needed to be more assertive, in general. She seemed to go along with things too easily, although she showed backbone with Jarvis, for the most part. I didn't like how she took so much crap off her stepmonster, who had neatly stepped in and stole her inheritance due to her cheap father's refusal to get a lawyer to do his will. The lady pretty much stole her house away, and was using Bevin as an unpaid housekeeper/cleaner. I also wished that she would have communicated more clearly with Jarvis. She gave out a lot of mixed signals. Thankfully, he was a gentleman and didn't take advantage of her, although he easily could have. He was a genuinely nice guy, and I appreciated that about him. Not too many people would have taken a sick stranger home to their house and nursed her back to health, expecting nothing in return, although he did appreciate her cooking when she was on the mend.
This was a short, entertaining read, although a little on the dry side. It's definitely a sweet/"both feet on the floor" romance, which has an appeal nowawadays if a reader feels oversaturated with too much "nookie" in romance. For readers who have to have "nookie", I'd recommend skipping this one. I liked the charm of the very British elements, so I'll probably keep it for those reasons.
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