Review: The Un-Arranged Marriage – Laura Brown
by Laura Brown
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: March 28, 2022
Source: Grey's Promotions
I received an advance review copy of this book from Grey's Promotions. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Their mothers are the worst matchmakers…
Mark Goldman has never gotten along with Shaina Fogel. Ever. Even when they were in diapers, their bestie mothers wanted them to grow up and get married. Not happening. Mark prefers his quiet, reserved life. But a family wedding is about to change everything Mark thought he knew about his archnemesis.
A week of wedding events with Mark Goldman? Shaina would rather have a week of root canals. Maybe the guy is hot, but for their entire lives, he’s never once acknowledged the fact that she’s hard of hearing. So it comes as a massive surprise when she discovers that Mr. High-and-Mighty and Annoyingly Sexy simply didn’t know. And now she needs his help.
When it’s revealed that the weeklong wedding events are actually a weeklong competition—for a dream vacation—Mark and Shaina do the unthinkable: work together. And the second the animosity begins to fade, something even more electric takes its place. Only now it’s not just an attraction between enemies. And nothing could be worse than the fact that their mothers might have had it right…
This book is just as cute as the cover! It’s a fun mishmash of the frenemies-to-lovers and vacation fling trope, with an extra dash of competition and humor.
“No way would she develop feelings for the man, not when their parents had dressed her as a bride and him as a groom when they were babies. No attraction. Nothing. Mark was a no-cross zone.”
After being thrown together by their parents for their entire childhoods, it’s no wonder that Mark and Shaina despise each other. But after a reveal that changes their past relationship, a family wedding – and a competition with a prize they both want – lead to them working together. And when that working together makes them realize they’re attracted to each other? Well, it’s not like there was a friendship to ruin in the first place. And what happens at the wedding, stays at the wedding… right?
“Somehow, they’d gone from never talking, disliking each other, to being a team. And if she was honest with herself, she did like him, now that she could hear him. Heck, the fact that he’d made an honest effort to be heard and hadn’t dropped back to normal meant a lot to her.
The beard and dimple and biceps didn’t hurt.”
Shaina is hard of hearing, and even with her hearing aids certain situations (like being in a noisy area) make it harder for her to hear. Her family’s accommodations for that can be patronizing at the best of times, but at least they try, unlike the rest of the world. Mark, who has a soft voice at the best of times, never realized that his soft voice meant that Shaina could never hear him. He thought her scowls and unresponsiveness were a reflection of her dislike for him. But Mark’s well positioned to understand her frustration with her family, as he’s had similar problems getting them to understand his demisexuality. So it’s even more of a shock to him when he realizes that he’s attracted to Shaina. For her part, she’s initially doubtful that he’ll actually continue shouldering the work of communicating with her, something most hearing people forget about quickly. But Mark’s continued efforts reflect his kindness and compassion, and it’s not long before she realizes she’s falling for him, too.
Besides the whole enemies-to-lovers thing, they’re also complete opposites. Shaina is competitive, to say the least, and extremely extroverted. Wherever the center of the party is, that’s where she’s likely to be. Mark, on the other hand, is an introverted wallflower, happier at home than going out constantly, and he fears that that’ll be a source of friction in any possible relationship. They both do a lot of assuming about their increasingly wrongly named vacation “fling,” and of course that leads into the bleak moment. Given that their initial enmity was founded on a miscommunication, it’s no surprise that it plays a large part in the rest of the book, including the bleak moment. It’s very pleasing symmetrically, in that his lack of knowledge about her hearing disability led to them being frenemies for so long, and it’s her lack of knowledge about his sexuality that leads to their later troubles. In both cases, it’s a reminder that they need to communicate with each other, so while it’s one of my least favorite bleak moment tropes, I can acknowledge that it works well in this book.
Overall, another funny and fun book from an author who’s definitely earned a place on my auto-buy list!
Content notes: View Spoiler »ableism (around hard of hearing character), alcohol « Hide Spoiler