Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Man Must Marry by Janet Chapman

Book Description:
Trying to escape marriage, they are snared by love.

When Sam Sinclair's self-made millionaire grandfather sends Willa Kent, a woman none of the three Sinclair brothers have even heard of, as his proxy to an ultra-important meeting of the Sinclair shipping company, most people would think the old man had lost his marbles. But Sam knows his grandfather too well. For some reason, the wily old man has decided that one of his three grandsons should marry Willa, and this is his way of trying to force the issue....

So Willa and Sam team up on what seems like a wild-goose chase to find some loophole in Grandfather Sinclair's crazy notion. But as Sam crews Willa's yacht en route to Maine, he finds to his surprise that his grandfather's offbeat scheme is growing more attractive by the moment. Willa is smart, beautiful...and has a wild streak that sends them soaring together above the clouds.

But Willa isn't about to let Sam fly away with her heart until she knows his true motives. If the man wants to marry for money, then the woman in her says that first he must fall in love.

I'm a big Janet Chapman fan and I've loved her Maine Highlander books, but this stand alone contemporary was not up to what I've come to expect from her.  Although this novel had some quirky cute things in it, for the most part I found the story far fetched and I didn't connect with the heroine at all.

Here we have a story of a plump-ish, klutzy young woman, Willa Kent, who can't seem to get her act together.  Although she is obviously smart and attractive, she's been keeping herself holed up in Maine, afraid to live a real life after a tragic car accident that maimed her niece.  An accident she felt she was responsible for after witnessing her ex-husband's infidelity.  Instead, Willa has been living it up with a bunch of retirees that work for her in her casket factory.  Yes, I kid you not.  A casket factory.  Fate steps in when she winds up inheriting a fortune from an aging billionaire she befriended before he died.  He was building his own casket in her factory!

The sneaky billionaire wanted to make sure she'd be happy in life after his death.  So, he built in a catch to the inheritance.  It turns out he has three good looking grandsons who are eligible to take over the company.  He made a condition in the will that she must marry one of them - and have a baby within a few years - or else the family company reverts to his arch enemy and biggest competitor.  He knew she'd never let the family lose the company so this was his way to insure she'd marry, have kids, and be set for life.  Unfortunately, she has no idea about his plan until the will is read.  But before that, she's already met the grandsons...

One in particular, Sam - a hunk of the first order - falls for her overnight.   Sam is just too good to be true, except for the fact that he fell for Willa hook, line and sinker too fast.  I kept asking myself - why?  What did he see in her?  We never actually find out just what is Sam's reason for falling for her so quickly.  Is it for the company?  Is it just mad lust?  Has he been yearning for a certain someone all his life?  Na-da.  Willa is such an unlikely type for him, I really felt like we needed more background and thought process to justify Sam's impetuous behavior towards her.  Later on, when he's trying to win her while in Maine, we hear he's gained all this weight and has become depressed - and still we don't know why?  Is he demoralized that she's rejecting him or is he distraught over losing his grandfather?  That was fuzzy too.  Plus, I wasn't sure, are we actually supposed to believe he's really upset, or is it an act to work on Willa's sympathies?  There were a lot of gray areas in this book that had me doubting and second guessing and just plain scratching my head - why?

In New York, where they meet, she is a living wreck.  She can't walk in high heels and looks awful in a suit - the Sinclair brothers think of her as "a partridge."  It turns out she's aces captaining a boat at sea, but on land - especially around Sam - she's all thumbs.  She's hampered by all sorts of inferiority issues and baggage from the car crash.   Once she finds out about the will she hightails it back to Maine on the boat she just inherited.  But Sam has other ideas.  He has himself dropped into the ocean by a helicopter so she will be forced to rescue him and he crews for her from New York to Maine (hence, the cover of the book).  Another thing I forgot to mention about is how Willa changes when she's at sea.  On board she suddenly becomes a "wild woman" and she jumps Sam's bones and they have mad, passionate sex for four days at sea.  But, Willa's deal is, when they land, their fling is over.  Sam has other plans.  He intends to marry her and get her pregnant immediately.

As you can imagine, for most of the book Willa is running away from Sam and he's chasing after her.  Why would any sensible woman in her right mind resist a gorgeous guy who's crazy about her, wants to marry her and there's a huge fortune to go with it?  Like I said, she has issues.  She's convinced that she's such a klutz that she'd be an unsafe mother.  So, she had her tubes tied after the car accident.  Uh-oh, what does that do to the will?  No problem, Sam's sperm is so big and strong - she gets pregnant anyway! *rolls eyes*  Eventually she gives in to Sam and admits she's crazy about him too, but it was torture to read about how she finally determined how important he is to her.  Willa is such a basket case through most of this book, I could barely get through it. 

I had so many issues with this plot, I couldn't help shaking my head and can't believe I finished it. I was tempted to toss it.   I haven't even mentioned the whole side story of the battling retirees and Willa's sister who's married to a jerk.  However, one glaring item that was never fully developed upon was Barry, the grandson of the old man's arch enemy, who would get hold of the family company if Willa didn't marry one of the Sinclair brothers.   I thought we'd see more of him in the role of a villain.  After a few dates with Willa, his plot line just kind of fizzled out.  One of the things I did like in the book was Willa's niece who was unbelievably wise and well adjusted for a teenager with a prosthesis. 

If you like books with quirky plot lines, quirky settings and heroines who are in denial and don't believe they're worthy of a happily ever after ending then you might like this book.  Unfortunately, it was more of a head banger for me.



Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Awww, too bad this one was disappointing. I read my first book by her recently, Dragon Warrior, and really liked it.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I read Moonlight Warrior, the previous book to Dragon Warrior, which wasn't bad. It's a sequel to her Time Traveling Highlander series.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Sounds like some major suspension of disbelief is called for. Wow - lots going on in this story.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Julia, I know!

Yvette said...

Books like this are one of the reasons I got tired of reading 'romance' in the first place. It sounds like the plot needed to be 'stretched' by the author to fit the amount of necessary pages. I would not have finished it. You have fortitude, Julie. :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette, believe me, my fortitude is lagging. Since I like this author a lot, I didn't put it down, but I am giving up on other newer authors if they don't grab me.

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