The summary: In a world full of frogs, Alison Carter is determined to find her prince. Maybe her dating past is more Titanic than Love Boat, but she's seen enough happy marriages to know that true love is possible. No matter what, she won't give up on happily-ever-after. If she can't find Mr. Right, she'll simply hire someone who can. When Brandon Scott inherits a successful matchmaking business, he thinks his prayers have been answered. Set up a few lonely ladies, collect the fee, how hard can it be? No one needs to know he's not really a professional matchmaker-especially not his first client, the beautiful, spirited Alison. Soon he's falling for her-and her dreams of kids and carpools. But Alison is getting close to figuring out his secret, and if she learns he's deceived her too, she'll walk right out the door, taking Brandon's heart with her.
And here is Melissa's review:
If you're reading this, you're probably as passionate a reader as I am. So when I tell you that for me, “packing for vacation” is code for loading my e-reader and stuffing my suitcase full of books, you know what I'm talking about. You must not only pack the expected number of books you plan to read, but lots of backups, just in case a book or two turns out to be a dud. Vacation book insurance, if you will.
I read Heartstrings and Diamond Rings while on a weekend getaway that involved a lot of rum drinks and soaking in a pool. I'm pretty sure none of that rum-induced relaxation fuzzed up my opinion (rum makes me sharp as a tack! Mr. Cutler will back me up on that), so I feel totally confident in telling you that Heartstrings and Diamond Rings is vacation worthy. You won't need vacation book insurance if you pack it. This is a compliment of the highest order from me because it's always been my dream to be the kind of author who writes books people want to take on vacation. Vacation books really have to deliver the goods because who wants to waste precious vacation time on bummer books?
Bias alert! There's little I adore more in romance novels than hero groveling. I like suffering and heartache that's so bad it's like grief when the hero is finally confronted with his sins. I want the heroine to make him pay, and I want the hero to grovel like he's not worthy to lick the heroine's stilettos—until he finally comes up with the perfect grand gesture to prove his worth. I eat that stuff up.
When readers first meet Brandon, the hero in Heartstrings and Diamond Rings, it becomes immediately clear that he's going to go down in flames. He's conning the heroine, Alison, and a bunch of other lovelorn singles who think he's a matchmaker. He's not and has no desire to, but he's broke and trying to hustle a new real estate deal using the money he makes from the matchmaking business he inherits from his grandmother. He's still likeable, despite his horrible choices, but he digs himself into a hole of lies with Alison immediately—and any reader of romance knows there's only one way out of said hole. It was at this early stage of the book when I poured myself another coconut rum and told Mr. Cutler to entertain the children for a few hours so I could concentrate. Because when I'm promised hero groveling, I MUST READ WITHOUT STOPPING LIKE A MANIAC until it happens. Hence, why I ate this book up in a day.
Jane Graves delivered on the promise of Brandon's comeuppance beautifully. The book has a great ending that won't disappoint. Overall, I'd say this book will appeal to fans of Shannon Stacey's Yours to Keep. It's straight contemporary, without any suspense plot, and Graves is a master of maintaining realistic tension. Another aspect I loved is that the whole story is told from alternating points of views of the hero and heroine, without any pesky points of views from side characters slowing readers down on our march to the big comeuppance moment. One slight issue: the first 100 pages moved kind of slowly. I'm not going to lie—I skimmed the scenes in which Alison attended the preservation society board meetings (snore!). But the second half of the book really picks up speed.
It's worth noting here that I bought the nook version of the book, which was the same price as the paperback, but there was a formatting problem that detracted from my reading pleasure. Every hyphen had been replaced with a question mark. So turn-of-the-century was turn?of?the?century and ill-fated was ill?fated. If you buy this book, pick a different format.
None of that formatting stuff is the author's fault. This was an amazing book that I'd recommend to any fan of contemporary romance. I'll be rooting for Jane Graves at the RITA awards this summer, and I'll definitely be checking out her other books when it's time for me to pack for my next vacation.