Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?
Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …
Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.
Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.
Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.
I’m really very fond of the “fake marriage” trope, eager to see how each author gives this familiar theme their own twist. Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison delivers a delightful contemporary romance within this well known framework, one that kept me entertained and connected right up until the end.
Unlike some of the other stories, Jamison gave both men a connected past which made their reunion and rising feelings, or perhaps buried feelings much more authentic. They understood each other even while relearning the adult version of the other person that they were faced with now. Jamison delivers now only great characters but realistic situations, beautiful locations such as Bliss Island which is based on an actual place.
I am not a fan of the tired tag “Gay For You” which implies a choice in sexuality, or that a character “turned” the other one gay. Please. So I was happy to see Caleb working through his feelings and realizing that he’s actually bisexual, a far more realistic and positive portrait. In fact, Caleb and Julian’s relationship is based on growth and trust, which I appreciated, given the backgrounds of one and the situation in which their reunion is launched.
All the characters here were so well drawn out that you enjoyed spending time with each and every one, whether it was the dancers at the club in Miami to the extended family of friends at the Bliss Island resort. They were all people you wanted to get to know better and I am thrilled this is becoming a series. I’m not sure if it’s couples coming to the island or more of Caleb and Julian or both. Either way I will be waiting for the next installment to drop.
Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison really had everything I love in a contemporary romance. Well written, a trope I love, men reuniting with a past history and given a chance at love and HEA in a drop dead gorgeous location! Yes, I am absolutely recommending this! I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
Cover art: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design. Not a fan of the cover. No real elements from the story, just a model. Disappointing.