An executive needs a wife to gain his grandmother’s blessing to become CEO of the family business.
Garrett Song is one step away from achieving his lifelong dream of heading his family’s Los Angeles fashion empire. Shocked at his grandmother’s announcement that she's chosen a Korean heiress for him to marry and that he must marry her if he wants to be promoted, Garrett lies and tells her that he's already engaged. Garrett has given his entire life to the company, but he refuses to let his family dictate whom he’ll marry, even if the marriage would allow the Songs to enter into the jae-bul, the wealthy, entitled echelon of Korean society. Enter Natalie Sobol, an up-and-coming HR professional in his firm. Natalie is attempting to gain custody of her 6-month-old niece after her sister and brother-in-law died in a car accident. When Garrett asks Natalie to agree to a fake marriage to thwart his grandmother’s plan, Natalie realizes the appearance of being happily married might sway the court to rule in her favor. Lee’s debut novel succeeds as a category romance (belonging to the branded lines of shorter Harlequin romances published every month), as the book is jammed with popular romance tropes such as familial duty, fake engagement, and corporate espionage. Natalie and Garrett are likable characters who want to achieve their goals on their own terms, and when they team up as husband and wife, they discover they make each other stronger both professionally and personally. It’s especially poignant that Natalie, who is mostly unfamiliar with her own Korean heritage, mends the discord between Garrett and his old-fashioned grandmother. Some of the plot twists seem contrived or underdeveloped, and Natalie’s urgency to adopt her niece doesn’t feel convincing since the baby spends most of the time off-page with the grandparents who also want custody. Nevertheless, it’s a quick, enjoyable read.
A competent debut from an up-and-coming author.