Book/Author and Year Published: The Decoy Bride by Lizzie Shane (2018)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Contemporary Romance

Preferred Reading Environment: At a private beachside villa in the Caribbean…or, you know, sitting on a lawn chair in your backyard with your feet in a kiddie pool.

Reading Accoutrements: A Mai Tai and some pulled pork sliders, plus whatever it takes to make you feel like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean (up to and including the attractive person to help you with your sunscreen application!)

Amazon Kindle’s “Recommended for You” list got me again, guys! I’m telling you, I need to stop looking at that list or I’m going to have to get another part time job to afford my book addiction (since employers don’t hire people they have to pay benefits to anymore…) This time, it recommended The Decoy Bride by Lizzie Shane and I happened to be looking desperately for some kind of light-hearted hijinx to help me ride the tide of emotions from the last book I read. Of course this one caught my attention!

Bree is an artist from a small town in Minnesota, struggling to get by in LA while she works toward her big break. Unfortunately, ten years of struggle and several disheartening failures have taken their toll on Bree’s confidence. She’s ready to give up and move back home when one of her part-time jobs offers her the opportunity to extend her time in LA: all she has to do is pretend to be a famous actress for three weeks. Bree happens to look like Maggie Tate – the biggest star on the big screen – and occasionally goes out in public as Maggie when the actress wants some privacy. This time is a little different, however. Maggie is getting married, and she and her new husband want three weeks of privacy to start off their marriage right: one week for the wedding and two weeks for the honeymoon. She wants Bree to pretend to plan a wedding at a private villa in the Caribbean while Maggie plans her real wedding in Fiji. Bree will have to be Maggie nonstop for those three weeks, giving up her personality and her privacy for the whole time, but the payout is worth it.

Until Bree meets the bodyguard: Aaron Cross, Jr., her bodyguard for the duration of the assignment (and yes, he knows that Bree is the double). A former NFL hotshot, Cross is dead set on being the best at everything he does. After a knee injury ended his NFL career and his marriage, Cross was offered a position as a bodyguard at Elite Protection and he’s been dedicated to the job ever since. He’s hired to protect Maggie’s double in part because the media likes to pair him with Maggie at every opportunity. Cross might not be the young athlete he once was, but his intensity attracts Bree more than anything has before. The feeling is mutual; Cross is more attracted to Bree than he has been to anyone in a long time. But Bree is supposed to be Maggie, who is supposed to be marrying someone else…

And surprise, surprise: Hijinx ensue!

Cross is in the middle of a bit of a personal crisis. He has been trying (and, he thinks, failing) to live up to his father, a man he was raised to think hung the moon. Cross’s father was a legendary football player, a devoted father, and an amazing husband…or so he was led to believe. Aaron Cross, Sr. died when Cross was five, so everything he remembers about his dad came from the stories he was told by the adults in the small Iowa town where he grew up. It turns out that the adults in his life left out a few details…including the fact that Aaron Cross, Sr. liked to sleep around and that Cross has a half-sister resulting from one of his dad’s many affairs. Learning that the hero was a deeply flawed human has made Cross look at his life from a new perspective, which has made him bitter. His mother has been lying to him, his father was really a jerk, and he wasted his life trying to achieve something that didn’t exist. Cross has even gone so far as to convince himself that he is physically incapable of love (and I’m not even going to try to stop my eye roll at that overdone trope).

Bree has her own issues to worry about. All of those failed attempts to become a professional artist that I mentioned before? They’ve completely shot her confidence in herself and in her art. Bree feels voiceless, which is basically “writer’s block for artists” according to her inner-thoughts. Having an identity crisis like that while playing at being someone else? That’s a recipe for disaster. Bree and Maggie are total opposites in personality; where Maggie Tate is outgoing and flirtatious, Bree is quiet and observant. Previous bouts as Maggie have lasted a couple of hours at most, but this trip starts to take a toll on Bree simply because she won’t get any breaks. Not even the beautiful Caribbean can take the edge off.

Both Bree and Cross have been living their lives as other people for so long, they are struggling to discover themselves. As they fight to overcome their individual identity crises, the two find a surprising compatibility with and admiration for one another – and the powerful attraction doesn’t hurt either.

I bought The Decoy Bride for a light-hearted read and I was not disappointed! When is the last time you had a book recommendation that worked out well? Tell me about it in the comments – bonus points if it’s a recommendation from us!

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