Honest Synopsis: A woman, Megan, has a fear of commitment due to father and mother issues. As much as she wants love, she convinces herself she doesn’t believe in it and has a plan to be artificially inseminated instead as she desperately wants children. A man, Connor, has a fear of commitment due to father and mother issues. As much as he wants love, he convinces himself he doesn’t believe in it and has a plan to make his next relationship more of a contractor position to go through the motions of being in love without actually being in love. They get married after a drunk night in Vegas. Shenanigans ensue.

I don’t usually read romance novels. I avoid them. The one time I purposefully read a romance novel, I didn’t even know it was one.

Seriously.

I had taken a book from the “Take A Book, Leave A Book” area at a resort I worked at during the summer of 2005. I was 18. The cover was that of grassy hills with a large house, and it was looking a bit stormy. The description spoke of mystery, of the protagonist getting the house via a will, but others having wanted the house and trying to get the previous owner to sell it. People start getting kidnapped, the lead female starts investigating the house with a male sidekick. There was one kiss, some gun shots, a wound or two, and the happy ending of the house not being haunted after all. It was pretty good.

This was before smart phones, and I didn’t have internet or a laptop at the resort I worked at (I know — what did we DO with our lives back then?). So, when I happened to be at a bookstore, I searched high and low for the author in the Mystery section. When that didn’t work, I scoured Fiction, thinking maybe it wasn’t enough of a mystery to be labeled as such. I then went around to anything I could think of that remotely reminded me of the novel to no avail. I finally gave up and went to the cashier to ask for help.

“Yes, we have that author,” the lady told me. “Follow me.”

She led me straight to the one section I’d dismissed. The section that had women and men in perfectly good clothes being ripped off in the heat of their painted passions.The section I only went into with a few friends when I was sixteen so we could dramatically read intimate scenes out loud to each other, giggling incessantly until the manager would stare at us and point to the door for us to leave. The section I always forget exists.

“I don’t think…” I trailed off as she had picked up a book and handed it over to me.

“There you are.”

“But…” It was the only book in the section that just a house on the cover, all bright colors. “How is this a romance novel? The book I read has just a kiss. I’ve read fantasy stories with more sex. The romance in here is about five percent of the book!”

“Oh, they dabble in everything nowadays,” she responded, waving a hand and going back to her counter. I had stood there until I had realized there were a few guys my age staring at me next to a poster of an ethnic man with washboard abs looking as if he couldn’t stand the sight of me without moaning in ecstasy.

I’d put the book back and left, absurdly confused. I had a lot to think about.

So, there is my experience with knowingly reading a romance novel. I had been heavily into Charlaine Harris’ southern vampire series at the time, which, in comparison, is like explicit HBO content. Which is funny, because now it is explicit HBO content.

So, when choosing my first novel to read, I wanted something ridiculous enough to keep me interested. I am used to books that, if any romance, it is more of a side note to the story being told. Which is usually about magic and/or dragons. Or murder mysteries. Sometimes, both.

Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly seemed like a great choice, if only for the cover.

Image

Seriously. Look at how creepy he is looking at her giggling underneath those blue sheets. The eyes. Those aren’t smoldering, “in love” eyes. Those are I-am-an-intense-person-who-is-forcing-a-smile-while-you-laugh-at-something-not-very-funny-but-I-like-you-so-I-am-pretending-to-laugh-with-you-also-you’re-pretty eyes.

To be fair, while trying to find the cover that was with my free Kindle edition (another reason why I chose it), I then found this gem:

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Why they changed covers, gods only know. Perhaps it came down to people who figured they would rather be caught reading the cover I have on the bus versus the busty female in a bra.

But the creepy cover was just as intriguing as the fantasy set in place.

The novel starts off after the deed is already done. Connor is tall, dark, handsome, “practically perfect in every way”, and he is mightily unimpressed with the woman he chose to take home as his bride as she pukes her guts out into the toilet looking her worst. Megan is… She has hair, hips, and some freckles. I can only assume she doesn’t get much physical description because the women who read these stories want to be able to pretend that they are Megan. To help you with this, copy and past this entire post into a word document. Click into your editing tools, then click on “Replace”. In the “Find what:” section, place Megan. In the “Replace with:” section, type in your name. Click “Replace All”. This will help you feel more as if this is about your situation, making you more emotionally attached to the story.

Continuing on, by “deed”, I mean the marriage. They haven’t had sex yet. Sorry. Sexual tension is needed in the story to keep you reading. I hear it is pretty typical to have to wait until at least two thirds of a book of this stature for actual penetration to happen. It could otherwise get boring–there are only so many ways to say “and then they had sex” before it is boring, I suppose. But the whole Will They, Won’t They tension is an attention grabber of its own.

So, they’re married. The first, second, and third chapters are dedicated telling the story of how this situation really came about. The first chapter is in the present time. The second and half of the third is in the past, twelve hours and nine hours respectively. The quickest Quinten Taratino film I’ve ever experienced. As the old tale goes, they’re in Vegas, so they are already drinking. Megan is there for her cousin’s wedding (although for a more traditional wedding versus the quick chapel and you’re done) and is out on the town with some very questionable bridesmaids who are making fun of the announcement Megan made to her family that she will be using a sperm bank to be with child soon, but none of the beeswax that seems to come with a male partner that could help her get there. No one seems as impressed with her plan as she is, so she continues to drink chocolate martinis as her means to cope.

Connor is there because… business, maybe? It’s never really said, except that he meets his friend there–who also doesn’t live in Vegas. In fact, in the whole book, I never really understand anything of what is happening outside their relationship. I think Connor owns his own business? It’s alluded to him at least having a lot of money somehow as he owns basically a mansion… I think? There is a gate in order to get to the home, and he seems super important what with constant parties and events to make appearances at (which is why he needs a wife, by the way–someone to go through all the motions with but none of the Emotions). And Megan does something with writing. Although, later in the book, it’s mentioned that she is doing some coding, so perhaps some computer work? Software?

IT ISN’T IMPORTANT. THIS BOOK IS ABOUT LOVE AND LUST, NOT CAREERS.

These things are mentioned maybe once and are only talked about in order to give a situation for both characters to interact in.

So, Megan walks up to Connor as an excuse to get away from the horrible women who have caused her to drink far too many martinis in order to be in their presence. Connor is newly single (by thirteen days, we later find — scandalous), having been engaged and the woman leaving him because he wasn’t affectionate enough. The two strike a deal to have a night of complete fun, no strings attached. Connor decides he will sleep with this woman; Megan decides that she has nothing better to do, so why not let Connor coax more time out of her?

Megan gets so drunk she can barely remember what happened the rest of the night when she wakes up….married. (The name of the book is truth!)

Connor, who could hold his liqueur (and is revealed to have perhaps given her an extra drink or two on purpose to get her more drunk), turns out to have convinced Megan to marry him. Because he realizes that he likes Megan’s spunk, confidence, and complete honesty, particularly about never being able to fall in love with anyone. These traits are part of his recipe for the perfect wife. When divorce is on her mind, even with a ten carat diamond ring on her finger, he then goes straight for her throat via deep make out sessions. She tries to resist, to give them a moment of clear thinking before making her decision to have an annulment, but he is just too damn sexy, yo. No one could properly think with all that masculinity directed at you all at once.

I’m not going to lie. Reading his arguments and how he physically decides to convince Megan to stick around? It would have been very difficult to say no. And I am a very rational and difficult to impress lady (in the sense of love, I mean–I am otherwise pretty easy to impress because I believe that all people are talented, probably more than me 90% of the time).

I’m also not going to lie about me enjoying some parts of the book, to the point where I actually giggled out loud at something that was written because it was meant to be funny, not just ridiculous situation to force plot.

For instance: A ridiculous situation was that, after agreeing to stay married for a trial period (sexual prowess wins!), Megan takes Connor to her cousin’s wedding. In order to make sure they don’t steal the spotlight, Megan keeps her ring off during the ceremony and reception. However, Connor then overhears the horrible bridesmaids, and the bride, talking about how Megan always had silly relationships, that she was pathetic, and how the men are driven away for a reason in the end, implying that Megan is the problem child. They even snort in her face when they realize they have been overheard by Megan instead of being properly embarrassed at their indecency to be politely quiet about their misgivings. You know, how most women just talk behind everyone’s backs? No, these ladies were straight to the face like most high school dramas.

Question: Why is Megan in this wedding? These three women are terrible people and obviously dislike Megan, so why did they ask her to be a bridesmaid? And why did Megan agree to be a bridesmaid knowing that these three women aren’t her biggest fans? And I don’t believe in the excuse of her dealing with people/friends because she is a strong and independent woman according to what has been written. That’s why she decided to forego any relationships in any light and hop on the non-complicated sperm train. She doesn’t want bullshit and avoids it as best she can. Assuming all of this as truth, how did this situation even come about? Because even though I could see her saying yes, why they even think of her as a bridesmaid if she isn’t even close to the bride in any sense?

Connor gets angry on her behalf when he sees that she is embarrassed, takes Megan in his masculine grasp, and says they should get going. When the bride snidely says they have to stay because it is her day (I’m not making this up — they seem to hate her, but are forcing her to stay anyway), Connor announces that they have gotten married, stunning the crowd as he slips her ring back on her finger that he’d conveniently kept in his pocket, and they leave to continue their own honeymoon.

That’s a ridiculous situation.

Megan is furious since Connor promised they wouldn’t take away the day from her cruel cousin. She asks him what he was doing back there, hands on hips, and he responds by taking a picture of her with his phone and says, “Documenting our first fight.” You know, for their scrapbook.

That’s pretty funny, and I could see a few of my friends doing this.

If you’re concerned about how that turned out, he ends up kissing and seducing her enough so she’s distracted and forgives him, and also by saying that it was his duty as her husband to protect her (it was in their vows), which caused him to break his promise. It’s cool.

As you can tell, these two actually do mesh well. After finally convincing her to move with him (a lot of almost sex scenes later. Like, there are pages of “Oh, damn! So close!” and then a paragraph or two before “BUT WAIT! IT ISN’T OVER YET!” erotic things happening. Very exciting. And pretty much cock tease after cock tease.), she moves from Denver to his place in San Diego for a three month trial period of how they would be if they were to stay married.

Megan is lucky to have a job where she can live wherever she wants as, sadly, I would have had to turn down this proposition from the beginning due to not having this opportunity. I am not relating to this character at all.

Megan says that they have to set up some ground rules because she can’t think rationally every time Connor starts to seduce her. Which is surprising for me, as the point of most novels is that the woman can never say no to the fantasy. Every time I get to a part where I think, “Wait, seriously? That’s a thing that is going to happen right now?” Megan suddenly says, “Wait, stop! No! This isn’t how things happen in the real world, buddy.”

And that is the first half of the book. Connor taking Megan as a challenge and trying to win her over because he really, really, really wants a wife. Like, dangerously bad. Oddly bad. Probably more so because of his mother issues of not being enough to keep her around. And Megan cannot trust anyone due to her past father trust issues–her mother married seven of the many men who were father figures in her life, and she never quite got over it.

Miss Mallory, the romance novel character therapist.

And if you’re interested in how Connor seduces Megan, it is by breaking the ground rules they set up for during their trail period — which, to be fair, he said he would be breaking the moment Megan tried to set them. He said he gets four kisses every day since she didn’t want to have sex convince her into staying married. I don’t remember the rest because I don’t positively know what they were. I am pretty sure that she has to go to his work engagements, that she would get as many babies as she wanted out of the deal if they stayed together, and, since he was rich, he promised her that she’d only have to work if she wanted to. With these kisses, he goes above and beyond to make Megan want more until she breaks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the perfect marriage.

If you haven’t guessed it at this point, Megan then has a breakthrough of her trust issues in men. She ends up running into one of her many father-figures at a grocery store, one she connected with…except that he doesn’t remember in the least bit, despite her knowing him immediately. Connor finds her in a very delicate and vulnerable state at home and sees his chance to really reinforce that he would never leave her, and that he is there to stay forever.  She finally says yes to staying married to him as she realizes that he’s stayed through her being in yoga pants, wearing algae masks, and being ultimately a bad cook. He is completely ecstatic that he’s won her over, and they end up having the best sex of their lives because of it. All the time. For, like, a week.

And, if you haven’t guessed it, the moment she has her breakthrough, a week later, he sees that she suddenly is all in and he starts to freak out and distance himself despite him having trying to seduce her to get exactly that.

This is where I genuinely started having respect for this book. Given, there is always something that gets in the way of how the couple gets together, but I honestly thought they’d be throwing in the token ex-boyfriend or that someone would be stupid about a fight, like those commercials I see for The Bachelor or something. Drink in the face, glass smashed, police called… Something a bit more dramatic than the guy realizing he finally got what he asked for and starting to freak out. Which is a real thing. And this has happened to me. Guy chases girl, girl finally gives in, guy realizes he was attracted to the chase not the girl, guy loses interest, guy moves on.

And I get that, Connor. It’s like when you really want to play a new video game, but you can’t afford it when it comes out. So you work hard and save up money, purposefully ignoring what anyone else says about it during this time period so nothing is spoiled. And then you finally purchase the game, but you aren’t able to quite play it just yet due to time constraints, and you’re an adult, after all. And then you finally get to sit down with your game and you get two hours in…and you realized that all that wasted time of you getting to this point wasn’t worth the battle as it isn’t living up to your expectations no matter the parallel universe you can think up and OH MY GOD I AM BEGINNING TO RELATE TO THE CHARACTERS.

I was beginning to understand their real life problems as I read, too. We all know Megan’s problem: Megan can’t love because she has seen her mom love every single man and none of the men ever stayed. But Connor’s problem? It’s revealed that his mother was mistress to a married man, which is how he was conceived. She ended up committing suicide when he was 13 because the father was such a dick. While he worked out his issues, he had made a decision that he just couldn’t seem to allow himself to love. And Megan was basically him trying to get closure on that situation…and while doing this, he was beginning to act like his father, never letting Megan go, as his father never let his mother go, every time it was argued that the marriage could never truly work out.

So, I know I said that I don’t usually read romance novels. I promise you, this isn’t a lie. I wouldn’t do that to you. You should be able to trust your narrator. But the few portions I’ve giggled over with friends, and the more dramatic fantasy/sci-fi novels I’ve read, trouble in paradise isn’t usually this realistic. And while there are a lot of emotions being thrown around in Waking Up Married that I’m not a fan of reading (the dramatic “What was he doing there, when he promised not only her but himself he’d never see her again!” lines are thrown around like candy at a fourth of July day parade in these books), I found myself immersed thinking I could possibly learn about something in case I come across this situation in the future.

No, I am not joking you. I got caught in the trap of thinking of myself as Megan, despite the fact that I don’t want to have children and the fact that Connor is the typically written way-too-perfect over-possessive/protective male that I love to hate. I mean, I consider myself a rational, prioritized gal. Someone who is practical, has goals, and doesn’t bullshit. It’s all about honesty and being straight forward, and if the other person can’t deal with it, well, fuck them.

Things I expected from and prepared for in this book:

  1. Gooey love stuff that makes me roll my eyes.
  2. A good laugh or two. Whether I was meant to laugh or not.
  3. Unrealistic situations I’d have to accept in order to get through the story.
  4. Sex. More than likely gratuitous. Possibly vulgar.

Things I didn’t expect from or prepare for in this book:

  1. Reading in public.
  2. Wanting to talk to someone about the book.
  3. Placing myself in the main female character’s shoes and agreeing with a decision being made because you find yourself quite like said main female character.
  4. A FUCKING MIDLIFE CRISIS.

Who prepares for this shit when they pick up a frivolous book? NO BODY. THAT’S WHO.

And it began getting eerie.

When Megan finds out that she married a guy who’d just been broken up with by his long-term girlfriend/fiancee thirteen days prior, and that it basically meant he could turn on and off his emotions as he pleased, I thought to myself, “Lady, pack your shit and go.” And then she did. And when he told her nothing had changed in the situation, I thought to myself, “I’d tell him that something did change because now I realize I’m in love with him.” And then she did. And when he didn’t realize he was all in love with her and kept calling and acting all civil and weird, I thought to myself, “I would tell him to stop contacting me because, while it seems to be so easy for him to get over all this, it isn’t for me and you can’t just go to being friends after something like that.” And then she did. And when Megan was still recovering from the hurt, I thought to myself, “I would get back on the old plan that seemed to work so well. Maybe it’d take a while to get back on the path, but focus on what you know works and stay strong, right?” And then she did that. Exactly that.

When you go into something having more parallels with Liz Lemon than you care to admit, then start comparing yourself to the character of a romance novel, you start to second guess your life choices.

But then the ending happened.

As I mentioned, Megan eventually found out about Connors ex-fiancee, who showed up at an event that Connor thought she wouldn’t be able to attend due to schedule conflicts. The woman, Caro, had heard all of the details second hand and isn’t at all happy. In fact, she starts to make a scene by yelling and crying openly, doing her best to make Megan doubt–

Wait.

Didn’t I…?

Yes, I mentioned that I had respected the book because it wasn’t going into the typical plot lines of the ex-someone entering the picture for drama’s sake.

Okay, you and I are both not surprised. I mean, are you really? It’s like the gun on the counter format. He mentioned several times he was out of a relationship, and there was a point in the book where Connor told his friend Jeff that he had told Megan about Caro being a very recent break-up, but that she didn’t remember it because she had been too drunk the night previous to remember. Of course Caro is going to make a surprise visit, and of course it will not go over well.

I’m going to fast forward this next section because it gets kind of boring from there, which is a side-effect of going to bland/typical plot lines.

  • Megan gets angry at Connor and accuses him of not only lying, but also that he is basically a robot of emotions, choosing when he has them.
  • Connor decides to take a night off from her and leaves in hopes that they can talk the next day when they’ve cooled down (rather than sleeping on the couch).
  • Megan agrees they will talk, but instead takes the night to pack up her shit and leave on the early plane to Denver as he can’t stop her.
  • He comes back and realizes what she’s done and gets angry, but then realizes he is becoming his father by not letting her go as she wants, despite his own feelings.
  • When Megan sends for her things, Connor shows up with the moving crew to “make sure they don’t harm anything” and tries to help her unpack, even though he said he’d let her go; Megan yells at him to leave and he does.
  • Connor calls despite Megan having told him to be done with her life and despite him having said he would let her go again; Megan finally says all correspondence needs to be done through their divorce lawyers.
  • Connor still doesn’t believe that Megan doesn’t like him, so he starts to drink heavily while thinking of calling her one more time because that is his version of letting go.
  • Connor gets super, incredibly, memory-forgetting drunk, in which his best friend Jeff had to leave a business meeting keep him sane.
  • In the morning, Jeff helps him to realize that Connor was indeed in love with Megan, mostly due to text messages he sent. Jeff had ended up smashing Connor’s phone with a meat tenderizer to stop him from making any drunken mistakes.
  • Connor finally realizes that the reason he can’t let Megan go is probably because he is actually in love with her.
  • He flies on a jet plane to Megan without telling her to surprise propose…again.
  • Megan is, for some reason, talking to the mean bridesmaids and bride who don’t support nor believe in her when it comes to her love life via video on her tablet.
  • Megan. What is your problem. Get better friends.
  • Seriously. You haven’t talked to any girlfriends throughout this entire novel. How do you not have anyone besides a dick of a cousin who has two dicks for friends. I’m disappointed in your independent ass.
  • I get over Megan and Connor knocks on the door so they can fight, and then he proposes again with her original engagement ring and a new wedding band over a gallon of milk.
  • He was holding groceries in his hands. It isn’t as if he were drinking a gallon of milk to impress her into marrying him. That would be dumb.
  • They start making out.
  • This turns out to be a big Fuck You scene to the three women who seem to have issues with Megan because they are (surprise!) still on the line.
  • As the tablet is turned off, I begin to wonder why there aren’t any really positive women role models in Megan’s life. And I begin to think this is quite a problem. Megan may need therapy.
  • Megan knows that it is a promise of forever, and she believes in it.
  • I realized that, although I was overall happy with the book experience, pleasantly surprised in fact, this was definitely a book, not at all real life.

There. I just saved you 251 pages.

#BitterCynicalBitchForever

 3 garbage roses. You won’t remember where they live or what they do for a living. But you’ll remember the previous night when you’re done reading it.

 

Funniest Breaking Fourth Wall Line: He might not be able to give her a storybook romance with love everlasting, but he’d make damn sure she had everything else.

Funniest Unrealistic Lines: (alone in his house after Megan left and he still didn’t realize he was in love with her) He wanted her pregnant. At the idea alone, he groaned. Megan growing big and round with his baby. So damn hot.

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