Hale Maree by Misty Provencher
Series: Crossed & Bared #1
November 19, 2012
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Hale Simmons’s life is already bottoming out and she’s only eighteen. Struggling on welfare, while trying to keep her alcoholic father on track, her dreams of having a better life fade a little more each day.
But, when her dad witnesses a brutal accident at the bar one night, it changes the entire course of Hale’s future.
Thrust into an arranged marriage
with Oscar Maree, the playboy son of a wealthy man, Hale must learn to trust a
stranger to give her the life she’s always wanted.
First, Hale needs to figure out if love can ever happen by accident.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Eighteen year old Hale doesn’t have an easy life, but she’s determined that her future will be better. She’ll take advantage of needs-based scholarships, get herself a college education, and build the stable future she’s always wanted. But when her alcoholic father stumbles in one evening with a drunken friend, planning on marrying her off to some boy she’s never met, the future takes a turn she never would have imagined.
Hale is pretty easy to like right off the bat. She’s just a normal teenage girl, barely an adult and still entirely dependent on her less than reliable father. They scrape by and often do without, but she pushes on, determined to make a better life for herself someday. Her father, however, has other plans for her.
When her dad and his old friend Mr. Maree get caught up in an accidental but prison-worthy crime, they’re bound by a terrible secret and the need to make sure neither one of them talks. After a few too many drinks, they hatch a plan to marry Hale off to Mr. Maree’s son Oscar, tying their families together in a way that ensures that if one takes the fall, the other’s going with him. It’s desperate and rather foolish, and it certainly doesn’t take into account the feelings of their children, but when Hale’s dad throws her out with only a few bags of belongings and no money, she has no choice but to go with Oscar until she comes up with a new plan.
I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. There are so many aspects of it that I can’t get my head around, but at the same time, Oscar was a pretty good guy, Hale was a rather lost and understandably naive girl, and in the end they were a really cute couple. Hale was that much more likeable for the way she fought the arrangement, not only staunchly refusing and arguing that she was not to be traded off like livestock, but actually making a run for it and fighting to get away when Oscar seemed to be on board with the harebrained plan. And while Oscar was clearly a hormone-ridden twenty-something who was very, very distracted by the consummation aspect of marriage, he was also kind to Hale and wanted her to genuinely want a relationship with him.
I didn’t like the way Oscar was so pushy with her, though. Sure, he’s a young man, and he’s got sex on the brain 24/7, but when he figured out just how inexperienced Hale was, he didn’t really back off. Instead, it seemed like he was more interested in talking her into bed than letting her determine the pace, and while that may be no different than plenty of other guys trying to get into their girlfriends’ pants, it was rather off-putting. Hale was in one hell of a bad situation, with a drunk of a father who kicked her out and few options that would keep a roof over her head. I would have liked to see Oscar put his own sexual interests aside and be a bit more understanding of the uprooted girl he was looking out for. After all, he was a great looking guy, and they seemed to get along rather quickly; it was only a matter of time before her own hormones and romantic notions led to exactly what he wanted.
In reading the story, though, the arranged marriage thing didn’t seem like such an unbelievable deal after all. Instead, the primary situation was simply that Hale was suddenly homeless, and Oscar took her in. Of course, he still believed in his father’s idiotic scheme to patch the whole mess up with a marriage certificate, but that ended up feeling secondary to Oscar’s attempts to develop a genuine relationship with Hale. Hale’s sense of betrayal, hopelessness, and typical teenage hormones and insecurities played a big role in not only the story, but in making her decisions believable, even in their crazy situation. In the end, I still wanted to throttle both their fathers, and I would have been happy to see these two kids take slower steps in the direction of forever, but the happily ever after made sense for the foolhardy romantics that Hale and Oscar turned out to be.