Title: Married to Murder
Author: S.C. Wynne
Length: 183 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery
At a Glance: Married to Murder is a quick and satisfying read, full of warm and tender moments but with an edge of the dramatic murderous sort that cuts the sweet in just the right way.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The last thing Seth ever expected was to be involved in a marriage of convenience. After all, he’s not some trembling Victorian heroine. He’s just a guy who loves to surf and spend his days in search of simple pleasures. Life hasn’t always been easy for Seth, but he prefers to focus on the future and forget his dark past. But when he spends the night with sexy millionaire Tanner Trenton, their connection is powerful. When the sexy bachelor explains a secret dilemma he has, Seth can’t help but feel empathy.
When Tanner picked Seth up for the night, he didn’t intend on proposing. But he’s oddly drawn to Seth’s quiet energy and, most importantly, he’s got a deadline to meet; if he doesn’t get married by the time he turns thirty, he’s out of his inheritance. Unfortunately, he’s already twenty-nine and still not ready to get hitched. Seth doesn’t want to be tied down any more than Tanner does, so he seems like the perfect person for the job. They can marry but still maintain their independence. Their marriage should be the perfect solution, and it should be smooth sailing, right?
Unfortunately for the new couple, when Tanner’s father is murdered on the day of their wedding, things become exponentially complicated. It’s hard for Tanner to imagine that his quiet, serene new husband could possibly be connected to his dad’s death. But the more he gets to know Seth, the more he realizes he’s maybe not the innocent, fun loving guy he assumed he was.
Review: The fake marriage trope is so catnippy, and I can’t resist it for all the reasons I love the romance genre itself: it’s sweet; there’s always a delicious underlying sexual tension; forced proximity is never not fun; the relationship, when done well, has to build believably through conversations, confessions, and a growing trust; and the HEA is always a guarantee. See? What’s not to love?
S.C. Wynne’s Married to Murder has all the things I listed above with a murder (obvs) on the side to give Seth and Tanner’s story just that little bit extra. Don’t go into this expecting a police procedural or a long and drawn out investigation, though. This novel is a romance at heart, and the focus of the story is the relationship between its two protagonists: how they met, why Tanner proposed, and then all the subsequent complications of falling in love when there are secrets between them that Seth is unwilling to reveal…not to mention that feelings aren’t supposed to have entered the equation in the first place. Theirs is meant to be a short-term marriage of convenience to satisfy the terms of a familial obligation, no more, no less—one for which Seth will receive a hefty payout in the end. What Wynne does with a skillful hand here is show readers precisely why Seth and Tanner won’t be able to resist the emotions that arise in their getting to know each other. They clearly belong together in spite of them being from opposite sides of the proverbial track, and though their connection was fragile, they also had immense chemistry going for them. It wasn’t at all a stretch to believe it when they fell.
Seth’s backstory doesn’t get a ton of word count, but it doesn’t need to either, not for the sake of building a sympathetic bond between him and the reader. It would have been easy to mistake him for a gold digger, given what he stood to gain from his arrangement with Tanner, if not for the fact that he was such an easy-going and genuine guy. Meanwhile, Tanner could have come off as the poor little rich boy, but the author avoids the stereotype by making him kind and caring as well as fully aware that he’s found someone special in Seth. The time they spend together surfing and getting to know each other was set at a brisk pace but rather than it feeling rushed, it was more a case of them knowing something special when they’d found it.
I liked the gray-area of guilt and honor and loyalty and the protective love that permeates the relationship not only between Seth and Tanner but Seth and Gordon as well, the man who took Seth in, saving his life in the literal sense and taking on the role of father in the process. Married to Murder is a quick and satisfying read, full of warm and tender moments but with an edge of the dramatic murderous sort that cuts the sweet in just the right way.
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