Release Reviews: Marriage of Inconvenience: M.J. O'Shea

Marriage of Inconvenience
M.J. O'Shea
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Released August 15, 2016

Lights, Camera, Lies.

Kerry Pickering has a problem. As a publicist for Hollywood bad boy Jericho Knox, it’s Kerry’s job to keep Jericho in the news. So far, Jericho’s partying and public escapades have made it easy. But Jericho has a secret, and when that secret is revealed in the most spectacularly disastrous way, it’s up to Kerry to spin it.

The team decides the best course of action is to make the public fall in love—with Jericho’s secret committed relationship. The one that doesn’t exist. Yet.

The team wants someone they can trust. Someone in the inner circle. That someone is Kerry. But what will happen when Kerry realizes that for him, the romance is no longer pretend? Can Jericho love him back, or is he just playing a role?

After the recent slate of books I’ve read, M.J. O’Shea’s Marriage of Inconvenience looked like the perfect light and easy read. For the most part it was exactly that, and cute and sweet too. And if it hadn’t been for one plot decision made by the author, it would have been simply delightful. But even so, it’s a good and quick read if you’re looking for an M/M romance that’s light on the drama and easy to enjoy.

Jericho Knox has a reputation in Hollywood for two things: being hard to work with and being with a new woman all the time. It’s an image that makes it hard for him to find work, so when he lands a starring role on a hit television show on the condition that he clean up his image, he’s willing to do what he needs to in order to secure it. Well, maybe “willing” is the wrong word. Kerry Pickering is a publicist for one the most powerful PR firms in Hollywood. It’s all he’s ever wanted to do in life, but three years in, his fascination with the glamour has totally lost its shine. Grunt work has a way of doing that. So when he gets called in to be on the “fix Jericho” team, he isn’t sure what to think except that he’s attracted to the man, in spite of his being a womanizer. But it turns out that Jericho is also gay, a secret which gets revealed in the worst possible way in light of his need to clean up his public persona. The PR team’s decision to spin this disaster: set up a fake long-existing gay relationship for Jericho. They need the guy to have a particular look though, someone who looks like… Kerry. But Kerry’s no actor, so how can he pull this off? And worse, how will he deal with it when he realizes the romance isn’t an act anymore?

There’s a lot that’s easy to like in this novel. The setting is simple and portrayed in a manner that’s easy to believe. The characters are straightforward and largely uncomplicated: Jericho’s your typical moody, spoiled, and sexy-as-hell actor while Kerry’s a reserved, overworked, and geeky office worker. They’re both jaded by the necessary PR crap that’s a part of the Hollywood game. The premise of a fake-turned-real relationship is always fun too. As you would expect, there’s a good bit of hostility at the start, because Jericho can’t accept Kerry’s reason for participating in the hoax, and Kerry quickly realizes how much trouble it is actually going to be. But Kerry is Jericho’s type—there’s a reason Kerry was perfect for the role—so things do move from icy to cute and sweet before long. From a technical standpoint, there’s a lot to like too. The writing is smoothly executed and never suffers from the problem of confusion in point of view.

The only thing that kept me from rating this book higher than I did has to do with the final bit of drama in the story. I can say this much without spoiling it: the fact that there is a planned fake relationship that’s designed to clean up Jericho’s image makes it obvious that the plan has a scheduled ending that makes the whole thing believable without tying either man down. But instead of just working with that concept to make the real relationship that forms have a sense of fatalism, the author chooses a different way to handle it. It’s not so much that I disliked what she chose to do, it’s that I think she could have planted the seed earlier in the book in order to have more time for it to develop so that as a whole it would feel less gimmicky. As it turned out, I wasn’t as happy with the last quarter of the book, then, as I was hoping to be. Never fear, though. Things do work out for them in the end.

Despite this slight disappointment, I consider my first exposure to M.J. O’Shea’s writing to be good enough that I will read more. And I happily recommend Marriage of Inconvenience to anyone looking for a good, quick romance that’s filled to the brim with sweetness and a story that’s simple enough to enjoy on a lazy day.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Marriage of Inconvenience in exchange for this fair and honest review.

A public relations nightmare leads to a publicity set-up. Bad boy actor Jericho Knox got caught with his pants down so the fact that he likes guys is out too. But now he needs to clean up his image and his PR firm decides their employee Kerry Pickering would be a good fit to be Jericho's supposedly secret hidden relationship.

Their whole lives are interrupted and neither is too thrilled about it. Jericho especially shows it with his distant, rude, and at times antagonistic behavior. He is used to people trying to use him. But Kerry is more insecure, sensitive, and has more anxiety. They are a bit toxic and thrown into a bad situation with everyone watching and providing a mix or positive and negative attention. And the negative stuff is especially hard to take and pokes at insecurities.

It is not an easy process with underlying antagonism, misunderstandings, and an uncomfortable arrangement. Eventually they have to try to sink or swim together, and find themselves becoming more friendly in private in addition to the public escapades. But a blurring of lines leads to confusion and mixed feelings. Jericho has built up walls of protection and letting someone in could threaten that. And Kerry is not as self confident and is not used to living life in a fish bowl. They both have fears and insecurities that keep them from being truly open and honest so it is easy to have misconceptions and try to protect themselves.

Is it becoming real or is Jericho just that good of an actor? Are the periods of happy they are finding in their little bubble just an illusion?

This is a cute, light read told in dual points of view. It was not big on sex scenes but dealt more with developing closeness and intimacy. Being put together highlighted their differences, but also provided an impetus to shake things up in their lives. Jericho especially had many conflicting sides to him. There was a difference in his public persona versus the man he was in private with people he trusted. I liked seeing the more easy going and fun side of his personality. And Kerry was more tentative in his life and really needed to figure out what he wanted. The closer they allow each other, the more chances they have of actually getting hurt. And they definitely have some bumps along the way in their journeys toward self actualization.

The Hollywood star dealing with the paps and fake boyfriend tropes are fun. And this was a quick, easy read if you want something with just enough drama to keep it interesting and not too heavy. It had humor, sweetness, and even some swoon.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

M.J. O'Shea

M.J. O'Shea has been writing romance since algebra class in sixth grade (when most of her stories starred her and Leonardo DiCaprio). When she's not writing, she loves listening to nearly all types of music, painting, reading great authors, and on those elusive sunny days in the Pacific Northwest, she loves driving on the freeway with her windows rolled down and her stereo on high.


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