A lovely, light rom-com. I had just read “In Another Girl’s Shoes” and liked it so much I was eager to read something else by Berta Ruck. This one was just as good! I appreciate being able to read a romance that’s well written, and witty and clean without being over-the-top sappy.
This is basically “The Proposal” set in the 1918s?? around that timeframe. The main character Monica Trant agrees to pretend to be her employer’s “official fiancee” which leads to a host of unforeseen (and foreseen) difficulties and comic situations.
The romance was well done. This is what drew me to Berta Ruck’s other book, In Another Girl’s Shoes. She is really able to describe the journey and struggle to find someone who’s not only compatible, but who you truly love and what that looks like. A common theme in both of her books is the main character has the choice to “settle.” Often with rom-coms the other “love interest” will be someone clearly incompatible, who’s mean, rude or has some other wildly incompatible trait. However in all of her books this isn’t the case. The other guy is usually kind, a genuine friend and someone that would make sense on some level for the heroine to end up with. Yet there’s just something that’s not quite right. I think she really navigates that fine line quite well, and it makes the book more interesting since the path forward isn’t quite so obvious.
Monica Trant, despite being more on the quiet side, definitely has a fiery streak in her! I really appreciated that Berta Ruck was able to show this and this dichotomy. People are rarely ever one thing, and the situation you’re in definitely determines if you’re more quiet or loud etc. Many authors though I think push their characters solely into the mold of “loud and outspoken” or “timid and quiet” without realizing that people can be both! Monica Trant, in the context of her office is more on the timid side. She’s nto the best employee, and she knows this which causes her to always be on edge, afraid that she’ll be fired. On the other hand, when she’s pushed into her comfort zone and is in her element, she’s definitely a master of weilding a situation how she wants it.
I enjoyed the subtle and eventually not so subtle battle of wills between Monica Trant and her employer Mr. Waters. Especially in the beginning as she’s resenting the position he’s put her in to lie for him she manages to cause a lot of mischief! I love mischief-makers.
This is just a personal preference, not sure I can even call it a con. However in both this book and in the other book I’ve read by Berta Ruck the heroines are willing to do anything to escape having to work. I feel like there are certain jobs that can just feel like drudgery. However she almost presents it as two choice:
1. A life of drudgery as a secretary
2. Get married and have a fulfilling life and a family.
That’s not always the case though! People can have very fulfilling work, and I was disappointed that she never shows that side of it. Both of her heroines had lost their families, so they’re really craving being able to be part of a real family again, which I really get. However she bundles together this craving for a family with a craving to escape independence and having your own job. I just thought this was a bit disappointing. She definitely seems to have had a bad experience working! I’ll be curious to see if any of ther other books portray females who are in the workforce and actually find that life fulfilling and enjoy it. We’ll see!
Disclaimer: There were a few offensive descriptions of Jews or people of different races that was uncomfortable ot read. Brief and almost said in passing, but still, be forewarned.
Books it’s similar to:
- Anything by Agatha Christie. There is not element of mystery, but I would say the characters themselves, and the tone is very similar.
- Connie Willis’s rom-coms. There’s definitely a wittiness to Berta Rucks’ stories, versus relying heavily on farcical elements.
- Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw since they’re both about a character finding themselves mixed with some romance and other inner-reflection.
Thanks to Amy for her recommendation! This was a lovely book.
You can read Amy’s 4-star review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…