A Model Engagement by Charlotte O’Shay

Alright, after reading this book I have one very important question that must be answered immediately. Is Maryland actually considered to be part of the South?? Our female lead apparently has a southern accent that comes out when she lets her guard down, and she hails from Maryland. The reason I need this question answered is because as someone who lives in Washington, DC, right on the border with Maryland, I need to know if I should start implementing more “y’alls” into my daily vocabulary.

What’s It About? 

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Lacey Reed jumps at the chance for independence with a career in the big city. But her naivety and ambition blind her to the lure of a blackmailer. With her savings gone, she has nowhere to turn when she literally runs into financier Connor Devlin. Though dazzled by Lacey, Connor sees the desperation she tries to hide. His gut tells him to help, and he hires her as his fake fiancée. Now Lacey has a job, and Connor has put a bandage on a family crisis. When the blackmailer ups the ante, Lacey resolves to face him down—no matter what the consequences. Does that mean Lacey will lose the only man who’s ever seen who she truly is?

First Impressions

A passionate romance at a beach house in Montauk? Count me in! This is the second novel in the City of Dreams series, and something I really do appreciate about these tales of fake fiancées is how the author presents us with characters who truly seem to have no other option. I think it’s safe to assume that not many of us could imagine a scenario in which we would enter into a fake engagement with someone who is a near stranger. Surely there must be some other way to get over whatever hurdle is presented, right? However, I was surprised to find that in both of these novels the female leads clearly had no other choice, and in order to look out for themselves and those that they love they have to do something kind of crazy. Heck, I even found myself wanting to yell at them, “What is there to think over? The solution is right in front of you, just take it already!” Who knew I’d be so supportive of fake engagements?!

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A One Day Fiancée 

In this novel, Lacey agrees to become Connor’s fake fiancée in order to help him care for his mother who would otherwise refuse the help of someone hired to be there. She’s willing to enter into such an absurd arrangement because she’s desperate to pay off a blackmailer who has a video tape of her in a rather compromising situation. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely understand how Lacey’s desperation to prevent this tape from ever being released could push her into accepting this completely unorthodox position. Connor on the other hand?

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Connor has known Lacey for basically just one day. In that short amount of time he can clearly identify she’s desperate for money. But to have him trust her enough to take care of his ailing mother, and also suggest they pretend to be engaged? After just one day? I guess I found it easier to believe her motivations rather than his. I did like that later on Connor admits his suggestion that they enter into this ruse so quickly was one of the dumbest ideas he’d ever had, but in that moment where he first tells Lacey she’ll be his fake fiancée I couldn’t help but think, “Woah, that was fast”.

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Past Deeds Impact the Present

Shockingly, I found myself more enthralled with the story of Lacey’s blackmail rather than her romance with Connor. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved ALL the sexual tension going on with her and the hunky gentleman, but it seemed that Lacey’s growth as a character was more linked to this other story going on with her ass of a blackmailer. To summarize, Lacey used to be a model, and when she started coordinating on a new ad campaign with a man who was highly regarded in the industry, he drugged her and filmed the two of them in some non-consensual sexual scenarios. This man then proceeds to blackmail her, demanding payment which reduces all of her life savings to nothing.

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The absolute best part of this book was seeing Lacey transform herself from a victim into a survivor. She was able to stand up for herself on her own two feet, and face the piece of shit who abused and blackmailed her. Lacey had the courage to say, “no more”. What was even better was that she came to this decision completely on her own. Nobody had to convince her of it, or push her into it. I think her budding relationship with Connor did act as a sort of catalyst, showing her how good her life could be if she just gets rid of the dead weight dragging her down. To see a woman who was at the end of her rope decide to rely on herself to escape the torment of her past was truly admirable.

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Mamma Devlin and Communication

There were two aspects of this novel that I felt could have been more fully accentuated. The first was the character of Connor’s mother. In a way, she is one of the primary factors that brings our main characters together. She is slowly going blind, and Connor wants to find someone who can help her through her day-to-day activities. Enter Lacey and the start of their fake engagement. While it is clear that she and Lacey get along, I simply wanted more scenes of the two of them spending time together. Towards the end of the novel we do get a glimpse of how sassy Connor’s mother can be, and if we had seen more of that side of her throughout the novel it might have added an extra layer of depth to Lacey’s interactions with Connor’s family. I think what I enjoyed so much about the first novel was the incorporation of our female lead’s younger brother into the dynamics between her and our male lead to truly cement their relationship. Connor’s mother could have acted as a similarly crucial supplemental character in this second novel, yet in the end it seemed like we never really got to know her.

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The second aspect revolves around the communication between Lacey and Connor. Throughout the book, we are privy to a lot of inner monologues of these two characters which reveal so much about their personalities. With Lacey, we learn all about how she branched out from her small home town in Maryland, and became a model in the big city as a way to rebel against her parents. We also see how she’s going through so much mental anguish over the issue of being blackmailed. With Connor, we uncover how the discovery of his father’s secret gambling life after his death influenced Connor’s relationship with his family. He had to become the protector and the provider. I just wish that Lacey and Connor had shared more of this with each other, rather than having it seemingly reserved for us to know as the audience. So many of these stories are glimpses into the thought processes of our characters. By having more heart-to-heart conversations throughout the novel rather than saving it all for the end could have acted as a real emotional bonding experience for our main couple, and strengthened their link beyond a basic physical connection.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: City of Dreams, book 2. I have a hunch over who the male lead of book 3 will be, and if I’m right then I just can’t wait!!!

Should you read it? Overall, I think I preferred book 1, mainly due to the more cohesive link between our main couple and supplemental characters. The story arch involving Lacey’s blackmailer was heartbreaking, yet also captivating. I wish there had been more of a resolution to how Lacey’s family responded to the blackmail. Not gonna lie, I kind of want to give her mom a good talking-to. Or maybe a slap. The ending of this novel was so freakin’ adorable though! After how quick their relationship started I really appreciated the patience Connor employed to go at Lacey’s own pace, so that she didn’t feel pressured into doing anything she wasn’t comfortable with.

Smut Level: These two have some intense make-out scenes that will have you fanning yourself! The one in the barn?! Phew!! My oh me oh my!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 210 Pages.

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10 thoughts on “A Model Engagement by Charlotte O’Shay

  1. Thanks for the review!
    That Lacey’s accent gets thicker and stronger comes from many people I’ve observed (including me) who in moments of stress revert to speech patterns of childhood. And like my mom Lacey grew up in the country and pronunciation of common words is way different and less sophisticated than cleaned up citified speech. The Marylander I know gives away his accent when he says words like high school and spider dragging out the “eye” sound.
    Accents are one of the many reasons why I love Outlander. I recently heard an interview where Sam Hueghan imitates Tobias Menzies deeper British accent. Sam is HOT in any accent. Also do you think Sam and Catriona are together? Were they ever together?
    And finally, Book 3 is about Jake Ricco chief of security who meets Honey a recent transplant to New York City who picks up a waitress gig at Sabrina and Vlad’s wedding…

    Liked by 1 person

    • YESSSS!!!! So excited that Jake is the feature of book 3! In the few scenes where we were introduced to him my immediate thought was “I want to see more if this guy.” Can’t wait!
      I definitely need to do more traveling around Maryland! Accents have always intrigued me, yet I’m shocked whenever my friends or coworkers say they can hear some of my Midwest accent come through. I’m like…huh?
      And Outlander has been amazing!!! Probably the best we’ve seen from Sam Heughan so far. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say Sam and Catriona aren’t together? They have so much chemistry, and I subscribe to Joey’s opinion on Friends that if a couple has on screen chemistry it means they aren’t doing anything off screen. It’s when they start to fall flat that you have to wonder!! They are so adorable in interviews though. If they aren’t actually together I hope they’re friends!

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  2. As a southern Californian who now lives in TN, I think what is considered “Southern”is funny. BBQ, depends on e state, but New Yorkers think BBQ is southern. My mom is from Texas and considers herself Southern, but those in Tennessee and South Carolina don’t consider Texas the south at all. I always thought it interesting that Virginia is the south when it seems pretty far north to me, so Maryland definitely would be! However, everyone loves a girl who says Y’all so regardless of where you are from, you should throw a couple into your vernacular! Lol.

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    • Definitely interesting to look at what might be considered “southern”! I actually spent summers at my aunt’s house in Atlanta, so I’ve been known to throw some y’alls around. Let’s face it, one of the best words ever! So practical. I even used it the other day in a work presentation. But I also went to college in Canada, so sometimes my abouts turn into aboots. Basically an accent smorgasbord! Some of my international classmates also asked if my home state of Ohio was in the South. Well, compared to where we were in Canada, sure!

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  3. Sounds like an interesting book. A beach house in upstate NY? It must be a lake house as there is not coastline in update NY. I’m intrigued enough to want to read this book to find out why it is this blackmailer seems to think he can blackmail his victim. If the take came out, wouldn’t it be evidence of a crime HE committed. I can see why you were a bit more taken with the blackmailer part of the story line than the romance.

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    • Oopsie doodles!! Just double checked and the house is in Montauk! My bad!! Updating now. Just got back from a work trip in upstate New York and Western Massachusetts, so my mind was all over the place 😉 Yeah the blackmail aspect was very interesting. His excuse of course was that it was consensual. So depressing that even with video evidence there could be doubt from the viewers 😦

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    • Actually the beach house is on Long Island specifically Montauk. Although I’d love you to read the book 😍 I will say blackmailer would say she consented. It’s complicated and don’t want to put out spoilers.

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