Helen Brooks – "The Billionaire’s Marriage Mission"

23 Feb

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Presents, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked the other one I read by Brooks.

The back blurb:
“Travis Black might be darkly, broodingly handsome, but as fas as Beth is concerned he’s also very infuriating! What would rich, successful and charming man like him want with a quiet, vulnerable and oh.so.ordinary woman like her?
Travis soon make that abundantly clear. However, Beth isn’t into casual affairs – so this is one billionaire who won’t get what he wants. Or will he?”

The Billionaire’s Marriage Mission has exactly the same plot as His Christmas Bride, the other novel by Helen Brooks I read. And it didn’t bother me one bit, I was caught up in the emotional side of the story. In TBMM, it’s the woman who’s afraid to love because she might get hurt again and the man has all the being understanding and being patient to do. Brooks knows how to do this plot convincingly, believably, and without being annoying with the heroine’s insecurity and fear to trust (again).

Beth thinks men can’t be trusted at all. It’s no lip service, she really means it. There is no being overwhelmed by passion for her shortly after she claps eyes on Travis. Sure, she acknowledges she’s hugely attracted to him but her fear of getting close to a man is still bigger and it shows in the things she does and says. There is no witty banter and teasing going on here where the characters say one thing and do another you often get with this kind of story. Emotions, thoughts and behaviour match, making Brooks’s character believable and understandable, maybe even if you normally don’t go for this kind of plot.

TBMM plays on the fantasy that there’s a person who knows you without you having to say anything and who won’t give up regardless how standoffish you act. It’s a strong fantasy when in real life there’s often a lot of work involved to get to this point – or no getting there at all – and the preferred mode for relationships is often “(emotional) baggage and you’re out!”

Travis is that person for Beth. He KNOWS her from the start and from the start, he knows she’s the one for him. Of course, Beth doesn’t see this because of her past experiences. The whole point of the story is to show Beth’s development from a hurt and I-can’t-trust-men-ever-again person to someone who’s not afraid to love and to trust. At some point Beth knows she loves Travis but she also knows she can’t trust him and that this has a lot to do with herself. Love and trust don’t go hand in hand, especially when someone was hurt emotionally; love doesn’t make everything all right. Travis knows this. As does Brooks, and to show this at the end of the story, writes a scene where Beth’s trust is tested and in which Beth is able to show that now she trusts and can see.

The whole story is told from Beth’s point of view and nevertheless, Brooks manages to convey Travis’s feelings through small gestures and the things he says. Of course, it helps the reader’s interpretations to know Travis is the hero and it’s a romance novel. So it’s easy to spot the little things that give Travis away and make the reader go “awwwh!” whereas Beth is totally oblivious to them (as would any person be in the same situation in RL). Brooks works well with these parameters. Look at this conversation, for example:

‘So if you never meet anyone you know is the love of your life you’ll stay single forever?’ she said slowly.
‘How do you know I haven’t met her?’ he asked very softly after a considerable number of seconds had ticked by.
‘Because you’d be married and you aren’t, are you?’
‘No, I’m not.’ He smiled. ‘But that’s because she didn’t feel the same.’

It’s the “softly” and the “considerable number of seconds” which cue the reader in that Travis is talking about Beth here. Beth thinks he’s talking about a lost love, as would a lot of other people in this situation, especially when they were hurt and felt insecure.

For me, it’s these small things which make this story enjoyable to read. Add to that Brooks awareness that deep emotional hurt isn’t healed just because someone loves you or you love someone, and you get a satisfying emotional story. And opposed to especially paranormal romances where the same plot is very often resolved in a couple of days, Brooks knows that for such a plot to be convincing, time is needed. Making The Billionaire’s Marriage Mission not just a satisfying emotional story but a believable story, too.

It’s a shame that you can’t guess that from the title.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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