The next book set in Helena Hunting hilarious and sexy world of Shacking Up!
Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman.
Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the recluse oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.
(From Goodreads synopsis)
A lot of my friends have Helena Hunting listed as an auto-buy author of contemporary romance, and I really wanted to read one of her novels, even though this is book number 5 in the Shacking Up series.
Let me start with the characters. Wren Starling is a genius of PR. She has been hired by Moorehead Media to handle and smoothe out the inevitable repercussions of scandals associated with Armstrong Moorehead, selfish, spoilt, sex-addicted younger son of Fredrick, the CEO of the company. When Fredrick passes away, his older son Lincoln comes back to New York city for his father’s funeral and is promptly enlisted to help with the company for a few months. Lincoln has been working on building sustainable community projects in China and Guatemala, and isn’t particularly interested in living in the city beyond the six months his grandmother asked him to. Now Wren’s contract is amended to include ‘handling’ both of the brothers, that is she still has to baby-sit Armstrong, as well as helping Lincoln transition to his new city life of a rich businessman. What is she hoping to get out of this job? a letter of recommendation and help to find a good position in one of the charities Moorehead family runs, and reconciliation with her own mother, a close friend of Mrs Moorehead. Wren is professional, organised, independent, sassy, decisive and loyal to her family and her best friend Dani.
Lincoln Moorehead first resembles a bit of a bear, but then thanks to Wren’s appointments (which he moans about but stoically endures), he cleans up to reveal a sweet and gorgeous young man. I loved his relationship with G-mom, his grandmother, although his constant fighting with Armstrong was quite childish on both sides. Most importantly, you can tell his heart is in the right place and he has a good moral compass.
Although a large part of the novel is dedicated to these two characters, others are also very important. Armstrong will make you wonder about how exactly his parents managed to bring up such different sons. He doesn’t seem to have any redeemable qualitites at all. Gwendolyn Moorhead, Lincoln and Armstrong’s mother, isn’t an endearing person, either. Actually, it is she and her life story that provides the drama element in this book. Let’s say, I really needed to step aside and try to think about the events from her point of view to make sure I’m not getting a skewed picture.
I also loved Dani, Wren’s loyal bestie, who is a private investigator, a voice of reason and a shoulder to cry on. Hope there will be a book dedicated to Dani, as I would really like to get to know this character a bit better.
What I expected was something like the old trope of a poor and hard-working secretary who wins the heart of her workaholic boss. Hmmm… I don’t think this will come as a spoiler, if I say that Wren does win Lincoln’s heart. However, she is not poor, and not particularly sweet or obliging. She knows how to stand up for herself (years of self-defence classes do pay off), and is both sensible and independent, which, of course, appeals even more to Lincoln. Since these two are basically on the same page, there wouldn’t be much conflict, necessary to keep the reader’s attention, but thanks to Lincoln’s mother, even level-headed Wren gets her share of tears and frustrations. If you are reading it and wondering where all the action is, wait until the second half of the book.
The book is fast-paced and very easy to read. It is a contemporary romance, and the contemporary life is fully reflected in the story. I didn’t particularly care for the coffee spill/whirlwind moment as well as the telephone call in the epilogue, but perhaps I am too traditional and will be in minority. There’s definitely enough good chemistry, understanding and sexual tension between the protagonists to satisfy a romantic comedy fan.
The fans of the series will be delighted, as the story of Lincoln and Wren is a fun-filled sexy summer read with a happy ever after ending. And if seeing a chin dimple makes you swoon, this is definitely your kind of book.
Thank you to Edelweiss and St.Martin’s paperbacks for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read Handle with Care or is it on your tbr?
- Have you read other books by Helen Hunting? What did you like/ dislike about them?