In brief: Kate has a school reunion to attend – only problem is she’s just been dumped. Enter her best friend’s brother, Josh, who kindly agrees to be her pretend fiancé…
The good: Kate is easy to relate to (she’s an OTT planner) and Josh is just delicious.
The not-so-good: Need more Josh! He’s a great hero – kind, sexy and balances Kate just perfectly.
Publisher: Destiny Romance
Setting: Australia, USA, France
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
Imelda Evans first appeared on my radar unknowingly when I heard ‘The Trouble With Men’, a submission at the Romance Writers of Australia conference this year. I was really impressed with the story – it was fun, feisty and funny. So when Imelda let me know that the submission was hers, I knew I had to get my hands on one of her books straight away! Lucky for me that Playing By The Rules was published this week.
This romance has all the traits that I enjoyed in ‘The Trouble With Men’, plus some. It’s a sweet romance primarily set in Melbourne, Australia with some glamorous international destinations thrown in. We are introduced to Kate, who has just returned to Melbourne in time for her school reunion. A serious and quiet student, she not looking forward to reuniting with some of the girls who were horrible to her, but now everything has just gotten worse. Her French boyfriend has just dumped her for her best friend! Kate’s plans (which up ’til now have gone very well – university, doctorate, post-doctorate and now a lecturer at the Sorbonne) are in tatters. Plus, she may have mentioned to her mother that she had big news to tell on her return home…
Fortunately, Kate’s best friend Jo has a brother, who has just jetted home from his wonderfully chaotic life reorganising hotel eateries. Josh is gorgeous, funny and a truly nice guy. In fact, Kate has had a crush on him since school. Now Josh has agreed to pretend to be her fiancé at the school reunion – will real sparks fly?
Some people have mentioned that Kate is not their ideal heroine, but I think she rocks. She’s realistic – I can completely relate to her. Kate is a meticulous planner (look at the academic success she’s achieved by her late 20s) but can’t quite grasp that you can’t plan love to the nth degree – it’s got to just happen. And ‘just happen’ is the way it does with her and Josh. Kate is also a bit insecure (she’s amazed at how popular she is at the reunion) – she can’t understand why people even remember her! Plus, after Alain dumps her, she’s without a plan at all and this to me is probably the worst thing that can happen to someone like her! (I think I speak a little from personal experience here).
This is why it’s fantastic that Josh steps in. He’s much more adroit at going with the flow and acting spontaneously than Kate – his actions at the reunion clearly show this, right down to the dancing! The juxtaposition between their careers also show how worlds apart they are – but don’t opposites attract?
What happens after the reunion is beautiful to read – a growing love affair with some wonderful descriptions of sightseeing in Melbourne and surrounds. However, obstacle after obstacle are thrown in Kate and Josh’s path, right through to the end. I was on tenterhooks wondering if Kate’s rules were finally going to break her!
After finishing, I was excited to find that there is a second book about Josh’s sister Jo. Can’t wait to read this one!