Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.
Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.
Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.
In Tall, Dark, and Deported author Bru Baker takes that old trope of the fake marriage and makes something wonderful and real. I’ve read countless stories that use this old great workhorse of a theme but few make it past the cute and fluffy. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I adore those stories too. But I love it when a writer takes it deeper, adds those layers and dimension to their characters, their situation and locations that make me sit up and pay more attention. That happened here.
It starts with Mateus, his almost expired tourist visa and the vineyard/wine business he and his sibling (and her family) have back in the Northwest. They’ve suffered setbacks, and now, because he let it slide in face of other issues, he’s got to take care of his visa. The option he took? Backfires in the most believable manner possible. We will all be groaning there with him in full blown panic mode. In a short amount of time, the author has let us get to know Mateus, find him so real and likable that we need to know he’s going to be alright. Then in comes Crawford.
Crawford is another man who’s easily accessible. His first marriage to someone shallow and callous ended the way you might expect. Unfortunately he didn’t see it coming and the result is a bitterness towards love and commitment. But Baker lets us see Crawford as a kind, generous man, a little trampled on but with a big heart. When these two connect, we want them to be together.
There are so many details here I loved. One the fact that they could not just easily get married and poof, that was it. No, there were rules and regulations to be followed. Suspicions about their marriage on both sides of the border (no quickies marriages, thank you very much) so government agencies were brought in. That dose of reality was wonderful. Loved Mateus’ family and town as well as the idea of exactly what Crawford did for a living. It spiced up the story and gave a foundation for both the men and their relationship.
But it was their fumbling towards love and HEA that made this story. I believed absolutely in them and their feelings for each other. The tenderness and the hot attraction, it was all there in the story. Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker is another wonderful Dreamspun Desire novel you won’t want to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t. I highly recommend you pick it up and make your acquaintance with Mateus and Crawford today.
Cover Artist: Bree Archer. Works for the character but the background is pretty nondescript. Eh.
ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776844 (ISBN13: 9781634776844)
settingVancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Washington (United States)