When billionaire Jesse Donovan, of 'First Comes Marriage' by Shira Anthony, offers Chris Valentine one million dollars to marry him, Chris is flabbergasted. But considering what he could do with the money, particularly when it comes to pursuing his writing career without financial worries, he puts his reservations aside and agrees. They enter into a contracted business agreement that very soon becomes much more complicated than either man could have anticipated.
Chris and Jesse make a big show of getting married and appearing to be loving newlyweds. With access to a gigantic mansion on the water, including servants and several other amenities, how could Chris go wrong? Yet, almost from the start, Chris is feeling everything but businesslike toward Jesse. Although, since Jesse is straight, Chris figures the best he can hope for is good friends. After all, he and Jesse are having a great time together. They’re getting to know each other and finding common ground like their love for books. Chris turns himself inside out trying to fight his attraction to Jesse and keep things businesslike but it's becoming more difficult all the time.
One fateful night, Jesse kisses Chris, then apologizes and makes a hasty retreat. Chris certainly doesn't object, but he is puzzled and intends to question Jesse about it the next morning. Unfortunately Jesse escapes to his office. Over the next few weeks, Jesse makes himself scarce, under the guise of being too busy to come home. It's only when Chris gets sick that Jesse comes back. Chris is as confused as ever because Jesse is being extremely attentive, keeping up the act of them being a loving couple even when there is no one there to witness it. Chris is beginning to suspect that Jesse is hiding something; perhaps that Jesse feels like he does, but quickly dismisses it, reminding himself that Jesse is not gay. Chris decides it must be something else. No longer trusting Jesse to be honest with him, Chris starts withholding information from Jesse, thereby digging himself in deeper all the time.
There is a lot more that happens in this delightful love story, written much like a Harlequin Romance, but I don't want to give too much away. I loved Jesse and Chris; they are strong, well-developed, and sexy. Also, I enjoyed a lot of the secondary characters, particularly Craig's mom and Wenda, Jesse's step-grandmother, who was even more of an enigma than she seemed. Besides Shira's delightful characters, there's lots of intrigue and drama that kept me interested and anxious to see what would happen next. If you like romantic stories with some unexpected twists and turns, and a happy ending, then you may enjoy this book. Thanks for this charming story, Shira.