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Resort tycoon Trent Hawthorne is looking for a wife. His all-business, no-nonsense grandmother has selected three potential brides―all beautiful and approved. Each “fantasy date” will take place in a lush Caribbean setting, filmed like a reality show to promote the Hawthorne family’s chain of resorts. All of Trent's hopes for love combined with a clever marketing gimmick...what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, all it takes is a kiss. But Cynthia Sawyer isn't one of the bachelorettes, and she's definitely not supposed to be making out with her boss's sexy grandson. Plus, Cynthia has her own reasons for hooking Trent up with a bride who isn’t her as soon as possible.
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Hot bachelor seeks bride…
Resort tycoon Trent Hawthorne is looking for a wife. His all-business, no-nonsense grandmother (and the matriarch of the small town of Maple Creek) has selected three potential brides–all beautiful and approved. Each “fantasy date” will take place in a lush Caribbean setting, filmed like a reality show to promote the Hawthorne family’s chain of resorts. All of Trent’s hopes for love combined with a clever marketing gimmick…what could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, all it takes is a kiss. A sizzling, sweet-as-sin kiss. But Cynthia Sawyer isn’t one of the bachelorettes, and she’s definitely not supposed to be making out with her boss’s sexy grandson. Not to mention it’s strictly against company policy. But Cynthia has her own reasons for hooking Trent up with a bride who isn’t her as soon as possible. And losing her heart is a price that she’s willing to pay…
Suddenly Smitten novels by author Tracy March:
Book one: The Practice Proposal Book two: Tempted in the Tropics Book three: The Marriage Match
"Take your sunscreen and grab a pretty umbrella drink! The Marriage Match takes you on a romantic island adventure where you'll practically feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your face. This sweet story is adorable. It's a feel-good book guaranteed to make you smile!" Nancy Naigle - USA Today Bestselling Author
"Every book in Tracy March's Suddenly Smitten series has been a fun and sexy romp and The Marriage Match fits that description perfectly. I don't know that I could have liked these characters more. From beginning to end this book was smart, sassy, fun, and completely entertaining and I loved every minute of it." Slick - Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
"Fantastic read! As always, Tracy March gives us a wonderful story that makes us laugh, gives us hope, and touches our heart. Put it on the must read list." Bette Hansen - Goodreads
"I adore Tracy March's books. They are just feel good stories that put me in a good mood and this one is no exception." Kimberly Lucia - Kimmy Loves To Read Blog
"Hilariously funny and charmingly heartfelt. This story is The Bachelor meets The Wedding Planner with a twist. A Must Read." Isha Coleman - Goodreads
"I loved the setting--the Caribbean islands complete with sunset beach walks, summery clothing and warm tropical breezes that the reader could practically feel. I was thoroughly charmed from beginning to end." Maria - Goodreads
"A delightfully romantic tale. The conversations are witty, and very emotional. The scenery is descriptive and exciting. The characters are so well done you fall in love with them. If you're looking for good entertainment, give this one a try." Georgianna - The Reading Cafe
Fantastic read! As always, Tracy March gives us a wonderful story that makes us laugh, gives us hope, and touches our heart. In this book Trent Hawthrone is looking for a wife to make his Grandmother happy. She sets him up with three lovely candidates and puts Cynthia Sawyer, her assistant, in ch... ...more
Totally and completely predictable, yet so fun to read. I enjoyed this romantic tale of finding love. Loved the characters and the fun story as Cin unexpectedly finds herself swept off her feet while trying to find the perfect bride for Trent.
This was a feel good story that left me with a smile... ...more
This sweet romance is the story of Trent and Cyn. Trent comes from a wealthy background and manages his family's Caribbean resorts. Cyn works for his grandmother back in the United States, a woman who has planned a "Bachelor" type ad campaign for the resorts with the added benefit of getting Tren... ...more
If you like sweet romance that takes you away on a whirlwind adventure, you have to read The Marriage Match by Tracy March. It's the third book in her Suddenly Smitten series, but can easily be read as a stand alone. Tracy writes fabulous characters and puts them in a well planned out story to ke... ...more
Every book in Tracy March’s Suddenly Smitten series has been a fun and sexy romp and The Marriage Match fits that description perfectly. This book has an interesting concept; the matriarch of the Hawthorne family, Fairleigh, aka The Q... ...more
If you need to warm up this winter, then look no further. Island lore, mazes, star-gazing, and tree-houses-this book has it all! The Marriage Match is a charming island romance, with lots of laughs and lots of heart! Once again, I find myself smittened with Tracy March's story-telling. Lush scene... ...more
I'm a sucker for a love at first sight kind of story, and though Trent and Cyn have known each other for awhile, the first time they were alone together sparks flew. The bad part came about due to the fact that Cyn was an employee of Trent's company, even if the company is run by his grandmother,... ...more
Are you ready walk along the beach at sunset? Feel gentle tropical breezes? Visit exotic locations? Then come spend time with Cynthia Sawyer at several Caribbean resorts. The scenes were so vivid and described so beautifully. I could feel the wind blow my hair and smell the sea air. Grandmother Hawthr... ...more
Oh my, how I love books by Tracy March. Loved the characters of Trent, rich single tycoon and Cyn, hired by Trent's grandma, Queen, to find the perfect wife for Trent. Little be known to Cyn, Trent start to fall for her. They are complete opposites, but loved the attraction between these two. Lo... ...more
Take your sunscreen and grab a pretty umbrella drink! The Marriage Match takes you on a romantic adventure to three different islands where you’ll practically feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your face. This sweet story is adorable. I just loved Cyn and Trent together. It was also f... ...more
The Marriage Match is a delightfully romantic tale of how romance and love can happen when two people so suited to each other meet, despite circumstances. Cynthia Sawyer is a lovely girl who has grown up as a rebellious minister’s daughter, who grew up to love her parents despite their differences... ...more
I’ve loved this journey Tracy March has taken us on in the Suddenly Smitten books. All of which giving us a glimpse into the island paradises (yes, plural) that the Hawthorne family owns. In the third book in the Suddenly Smitten series, The Marri... ...more
I absolutely loved this romance novel. It is too good. It made me all starry-eyed. It is awe-inspiring and what not?! Seriously I think this is a must, must read for all romance lovers out there. You will enjoy this one for sure. It didn't started as well as one would hope but with every sentence... ...more
****A gifted copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review***
Great premise for a story. Trent Hawthorne is looking for a wife and his grandmother has found three potential women for him in the small town of Maple Creek. He flies there and decides to go on a dream date with each woman to... ...more
The Marriage Match is Tracy March’s third book in the Suddenly Smitten series. I love a theme whereby the hero is forced into finding marriage. Ms. March has a hit with The Marriage Match. I loved Fairleigh Hawthorne (aka Queen). She is the grandmother of Trent Hawthorne and employer to Cynthia S... ...more
I love watching The Bachelor, and Tracy March captured the frenzy and whirlwind romance of that show perfectly in The Marriage Match. It was so sweet and fun, I know I'll be a fan of March's work for a long time to come. I really loved Trent and Cynthia, which surprised me. They had great chemist... ...more
The Queen aka Trent's grandmother wants him to marry. She's going to find him a bride and promote the Hawthorne resorts at the same time. She has her assistant, Cynthia Sawyer, help Trent with his fantasy dates. These two have known each other since childhood. Why is there suddenly such attractio... ...more
What a wonderful love story. When the Queen tries to work her matchmaking skills with her assistant to get her grandson married off to the perfect girl. Things go a little different. Trent was on board to go along with his grandmother wishes that was until he truly noticed her assista... ...more
This book is a clever twist of the Bachelor. Trent is looking for a wife and his grandmother believes she has found the perfect three candidates. What could be more romantic then spending a weekend on a tropical island at the family's resort. Trent didn't count on the sparks to fly when Cynthia i... ...more
Such a sweet fun paced book. Trent and Cynthia were adorable together. They had that spark. Theirs was a story based on the spark and the importance of feeling the spark. I loved the drama free story and the lack of craziness. I wanted to be Cynthia throughout this book. The way she felt and was... ...more
I give this a 4.5 it was a fun fall in love read. The Queen wanted to pick the wife the grandson tried to do it her way but his heart had a different plan . Trent & Cyn tried to NOT fall in Love but the heart wants what the heart wants. I enjoyed this fun light hearted fast read . I now need... ...more
LOVED THIS BOOK!! I'm a big fan of The Bachelor. It was cool the way the story related to the show but with an insider's view. Cyn and Trent were so perfect for each other. You definitely want to read this book, and all the other ones in this series by Tracy March, one of my favorite authors! Fiv... ...more
I received this from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This is a different take on the show the bachelor. I really enjoyed it. This is a sweet tale. I loved how I got to read about places that I have visited before. I loved the part about the Falls. It was a blast climbing th... ...more
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3.93 avg Goodreads.com rating
About the author
Award Winning Author
Award-winning author Tracy March writes romantic thrillers influenced by her interest in science and politics. She also writes lighthearted romances inspired by her real-life happily ever after. Always up for travel and adventure, Tracy has flown in a stunt plane, snowmobiled on the Continental Divide, ziplined in the Swiss Alps, and been chased by a bull in the mountains of St. Lucia. She loves Nationals baseball, Saturday date nights, and Dairy Queen Blizzards--and rarely goes a day without Diet Coke and Cheez-Its. Tracy lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with her superhero husband who works for NASA.
The soles of Cynthia Sawyer’s shoes squeaked on the damp flagstone walkway that meandered through Hawthorne Manor’s formal gardens. Hazy rays of sun kissed the spring morning dew, glistening on the early-blooming flowers and foliage soon to blossom into a Southern Living–worthy wonderland. Perfect for tiny Maple Creek, Maryland’s annual garden party—the most exciting event of the season, especially for the quirky retirees. Last year, crazy old Mrs. Osworth got lost in the winding boxwood maze and called 911 to get “one of those strong young firemen” to come rescue her. She’d said she felt faint, and claimed she’d need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation the moment they showed up.
Cynthia shook her head, an amused grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. It amazed her how much the townspeople looked forward to coming to Hawthorne Manor, as if the place were Buckingham Palace. But even Cynthia was guilty of perpetuating the aura, nicknaming its owner—and her boss, Fairleigh Hawthorne—the Queen. Being the personal assistant of the town’s matriarch had given Cynthia an insider’s view that had her a lot less starstruck by the Hawthornes than most people, who considered them Maple Creek’s royal family.
“Cynthia!” The Queen’s voice rang out from beyond a bend in the walkway.
For years Cynthia had tried to get the Queen to call her Cyn like most everyone else did, with no luck. She’d adopted the nickname as soon as she got to college, and immediately started a Goth rebellion against her strict upbringing. It had been no garden party being raised by her parents, a Methodist minister and an uptight librarian. Running away had seemed like her only way out as a teen. The third time had been the charm that landed her in an even stricter parochial boarding school. So Cyn had already developed the attitude to pull off the Goth thing in college without a lot of effort, and she had the looks, too. Fair skin, silky dark hair, aquamarine-blue eyes. All she’d needed was a black wardrobe and the blackest-black eye pencil, and she had the look down.
That had been eight years ago. Cyn had recovered from her overblown angst a while back, but she was still trying to get her parents to accept her for the free-spirited person she’d become, versus the “proper young lady” they’d rather her be. She’d moved back to Maple Creek to work on finding middle ground with them, and to prove they could get along happily despite their differences. After several years—way longer than she’d expected—they still had their challenges.
“Cynthia?” the Queen trilled again, never satisfied to wait more than a few seconds for a response. There was no hiding from her anywhere on the property, which didn’t bode well for Cyn, since she lived in a small restored outbuilding about a quarter mile from the main house. The Queen knew exactly when to expect her to cut through the garden on the days she worked—nearly down to the second.
“I’m just up the path,” Cyn called to the Queen. She hurried along the flagstones, sending a pair of cardinals fluttering from a patch of daffodils and into a nearby weeping willow whose branches swayed lazily.
Around the bend, the Queen sat in the center of an ornate wrought iron bench whose high swirls and elaborately curved arms reminded Cyn of a throne. She wore a velveteen warm-up suit like she did for all her morning walks. Today’s was navy blue and BeDazzled. Cyn squinted, preparing for the worst. If the sun caught it just right, the glare might blind her.
“Lovely morning,” the Queen said as she slid to one end of the bench and patted the space next to her. “Have a seat.”
Cyn joined her, tightly clutching the straps of her tote. Lovely mornings didn’t usually start with a face-to-face with the Queen. “Hi.” Cyn gave her a halfhearted smile.
Mrs. Hawthorne’s lips turned up expectantly, like they did every time she had a scheme in mind and was eager to put it into action.
Please, no. Cyn had enough on her plate with planning the garden party, working part time at Sweet Bee’s Bakery, and all the other daily responsibilities required to please the Queen.
“Just a month to go before the big party.” The Queen smiled, her apple cheeks bunching above the corners of her mouth. The sun brightened her beauty-parlor-styled silver hair. “I can’t wait.” Her blue eyes shimmered. Fairleigh Hawthorne loved being the center of attention, and the garden party guaranteed her a full day of it.
“I imagine,” Cyn said. All the Queen had to do was show up. Cyn and the rest of the staff at Hawthorne Manor had to worry about the rest. No pressure there, considering how exacting the Queen was about every detail down to the volume of the bumblebees’ buzzing.
“It’s going to be especially nice this year with young Dr. Anderson playing classical guitar.” The Queen hummed several bars of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.
Cyn gave her a sidelong glance. “I’m not sure that’s on the list of pieces we’ve asked him to play.” It was a garden party, after all, not a wedding.
“Of course not. I was just thinking about Trent.”
Cyn narrowed her eyes. Had she missed some breaking news about the Queen’s grandson—Maple Creek’s golden boy? Last she’d heard he was severely single and eager to find a wife, which amazed Cyn because he’d never been short on girlfriends. Poor guy. Must be tough finding the right woman when you’re a smoking-hot, superrich resort tycoon.
“He’s coming home from Saint Lucia this weekend and staying until after the party,” the Queen said. “We’re working on the new marketing campaign for the resorts.”
Cyn cringed. That would mean more work in addition to planning the party, which had become full-time with the Queen adding must-haves daily. Now there’d also be meetings with ad agencies, PR people, and who knew who else—mostly at Hawthorne Manor. The Queen had bequeathed her title of CEO of Hawthorne Resorts to Trent, but she still had a hands-on role in the operation. Trent was only thirty and still learning. Despite his MBA and on-site experience, his grandmother seemed eager to continue teaching him how things were done—her way.
Two gray squirrels scampered over the flagstones and darted beneath a huge azalea. Cyn imagined herself skittering around like that every day from now until after the garden party. “Sounds like we’re going to be busy.” She scooted to the edge of the bench, gripping it on either side of her legs, the iron warm against her palms. She was sure to hear about the details later, so she wasn’t about to ask for them now. All she wanted was to escape before the Queen added yet another column of items to her perpetual to-do list.
“Well, I’d better get go—”
The Queen clutched Cyn’s upper arm. “There’s one more thing.”
“There’ll be several houseguests coming for the weekends while Trent is here,” the Queen said.
Cyn had no idea what that had to do with her. The Queen needed to take that up with Henry, the butler, and the rest of the house staff. Cyn nodded slowly, hoping that would dawn on her. But the Queen never had mental slips. At seventy, she was still scary sharp.
“They’ll be three young ladies—friends of the family. One each weekend,” the Queen said. “I’m hoping Trent will marry one of them.”
What? Cyn cocked her head and narrowed her gaze on the Queen. “Did I miss something between ‘houseguest’ and ‘bride’?”
A breeze caught the wind chimes that hung beneath a nearby pergola, and they trilled a high-pitched tune.
“That’s where you come in.” The Queen shot a sly look at Cyn, whose stomach sank.
“Trent is looking for a wife, and we’re going to match him up with one.”
We? Cyn winced. This sounded like a bad reality TV show waiting to happen.
“I’ve vetted the three young ladies, sent the invitations, and gotten their responses.” The Queen proudly tipped up her nose. “All of them are eager to get to know Trent better, and hoping for the same outcome we are.”
Cyn was dying to know how those invitations read.
Dear Eligible Female Friend-of-the-Family, Looking for a husband?
“This sounds like The Bachelor,” Cyn said.
“Precisely, but much more refined. Trent doesn’t have much time for a social life on the islands.” A shadow passed over the Queen’s face. “He certainly can’t get involved with anyone who works for us, especially after everything that happened with Bruce Dunham.”
Cyn nodded, recalling what a foul mood the Queen had been in for months while the sexual harassment case brought by a Hawthorne Resorts employee against their chief financial officer had played out. Mr. Dunham had been acquitted, but the Queen wasn’t eager for a repeat. The case had called the company’s sterling reputation into question, racked up some exorbitant legal fees, and put the resorts in jeopardy. Regardless of the risk and the policy against it, Cyn couldn’t imagine the Queen being pleased with Trent’s dating an employee. Not many of them had the pedigree she required.
“He’ll be pleased we’ve found several appropriate girls that I’m sure will interest him,” the Queen said.
There was that we again, and Cyn had done little beyond feeling flabbergasted that The Bachelorwas about to play out at Hawthorne Manor. “You should call in Chris Harrison and his production crew, and start the cameras rolling. It would be killer publicity for the resorts.”
The Queen scowled. “I said more refined.”
Cyn remembered a time when a scowl like that would’ve sent her cowering under the bench, but she’d gotten used to it after two years of seeing them regularly.
“But I think you’re onto something with that idea.”
Cyn blinked several times. She might be onto something, but she was beginning to worry that the Queen was actually on something. Could she possibly be serious? Cyn had just filed her taxes two days ago, right on the deadline, so this couldn’t be an April Fool’s prank.
“Maybe this could be our new marketing campaign,” the Queen said. “Fall in Love With Hawthorne Resorts. We could do a bio piece on Trent and the resorts, document his journey to find love, send him and the girls to the resorts on fantasy dates, and finish things up with the wedding at Caldera—our crown jewel. We’d air it on the Travel Channel and break it up into teasers for commercials.”
Cyn would pay to see the look on her own face. Her eyebrows had to be up into her hairline right about now. Had the Queen just said “fantasy dates” and Trent’s “journey to find love”? She even knew The Bachelor lingo.
“You think Trent would be up for that idea?” Cyn worked to keep the skepticism out of her voice. She didn’t know him well enough to guess, even though they’d both grown up in Maple Creek. Trent had gone to public schools. Cyn’s parents had kept her in a homeschool co-op until they’d sent her to boarding school. He’d been gone for years—to college, grad school, and off to the resorts—and was rarely seen in town. Cyn had taken time off and made herself scarce on the few occasions he’d been back to Hawthorne Manor since she’d worked there. She’d been happy to let Trent entertain his grandmother for a change.
The Queen straightened her back. “I don’t see why not. He wants to get married, and he wants a good marketing campaign for the resorts. It’s a win-win proposition for all of us.”
Cyn didn’t see how she’d be winning anything except more headaches. Maybe a few less if they went with the plan to send him to the resorts for dates.
“Trent’s certainly better-looking than any of those TV bachelors,” the Queen said. “Smarter, too. He’s just the type of clientele we’re hoping to attract.”
Cyn agreed. Cameras loved Trent Hawthorne. He’d always turned heads, but never more than now, considering the recent pictures she’d seen. Some people mistook him for military, the way he confidently carried himself and kept his blond hair short. The guy was a good six two, tan, broad-shouldered, and buff. He’d fogged up more than a few camera lenses with his pouty lips and sultry hazel-eyed stare. No doubt those “young ladies” the Queen had recruited were eager to get to know him better. The whole thing seemed a little forced to Cyn, but who was she to argue? She hoped it worked. When the Queen was happy, everyone caught a break.
Cyn lifted her face to the sun and bolstered herself with a deep breath. “So how am I supposed to be involved in this?” She figured she’d go ahead and ask the dreaded question. No sense sitting there waiting for the day lilies to bloom.
“Whether we decide it’s lights and cameras or not,” the Queen said, “I want you to be in charge of all the details—greeting our guests, introducing them to Trent, planning dates and travel when it comes time for that. You’ll need to get with Trent to make sure he has a say in how things go.”
Cyn stifled a groan and gripped the bench tighter, regretting that she hadn’t made her getaway earlier. “With all due respect, that seems way beyond the boundaries of my job description.”
Cyn’s heart jumped into her throat. Had she said that out loud? Nothing wise ever came out of her mouth after “with all due respect.” When would she learn? The Queen had a no-tolerance policy for insubordination. Considering the limited opportunities in Maple Creek, Cyn needed to keep her job. She’d better apologize—fast. “I—”
“You’re right,” the Queen said before another syllable made it past Cyn’s lips.
Cyn struggled to keep her eyes from bugging out like those of the frogs that lived by the pond glimmering in the distance, croaking off-key serenades on rainy summer nights. But she couldn’t keep a quirk of a smile from tugging at the corners of her mouth.
The Queen nodded. “But there’s something above and beyond in it for you.”
Uh-oh. Now they were really headed down a crooked rabbit hole. What could possibly be in it for her?
“You’ll need to make sure the garden party is grander than ever,” the Queen said, “and that Trent has a positive experience with our young ladies. My expectations are high.”
Cyn met the Queen’s gaze. “How high, exactly?”
“I want him to propose—the sooner, the better—especially since we’re going to use the story of his romance as our marketing campaign.”
Cyn slid back on the bench and settled. She wasn’t going anywhere now that things were getting juicy. “I thought that was just an idea.”
“A brilliant one, of course. No advertising agency is going to pitch us anything better. It’s perfect pop culture marketing. Hawthorne Resorts are upscale hip, and everyone who’s anyone is going to want to go to one—or all of them. We’ll kill the competition with a campaign like that.”
Cyn’s friends had all been to Caldera. Liza and Cole Collins had gotten married there, and Paige—who owned Sweet Bee’s Bakery in town—started her swoony romance with her doctor boyfriend, Lane, there, too. Cyn had only seen pictures and videos. She’d never been out of the States, much less to an idyllic Caribbean resort. She’d gotten a passport, hoping to study abroad during college, but cost and circumstances ended up getting in the way.
“Shouldn’t you ask Trent and the girls what they think about it?” Cyn asked. “I mean, do they think they’re headed for a proposal? And this idea is all or nothing. If you don’t get a proposal, you don’t get a very satisfying marketing campaign.”
“I’m counting on you to make sure everything works out.”
“Me?” Cyn’s voice trilled, but not nearly as prettily as the wind chimes. Whatever was in it for her had better be amazingly awesome.
“Here’s my proposal,” the Queen said, looking pleased with her play on words. “I’ll give you a twenty-five-thousand-dollar bonus if Trent gets engaged before summer.”
Cyn’s heart stammered. “Did you just say twenty-five thousand dollars?” That kind of money would go a long way toward…everything. Especially helping her parents. The bad economy had tithing down at her dad’s church, and her mom’s librarian salary had been frozen for years. Their house was headed into foreclosure with no hope of saving it in sight. Surely if Cyn gave them her bonus, they’d be able to keep their home.
“I did.” The Queen set her steely gaze on Cyn. “But Trent mustn’t find out about the bonus, and I’d prefer that no one else does either.”
Cyn considered that, and decided it would be easy enough to abide by those terms. Everything else, not so easy. But she’d find a way. She set her jaw and looked the Queen square in the eyes. “Understood. And you’ll get your proposal. I promise.”
Trent Hawthorne gazed at his grandmother, trying to decide if she was delusional or if she was a genius—possibly both. She sat across from him in a royal-blue velvet wing-backed chair that had been in the parlor at Hawthorne Manor since he was a kid. The room seemed smaller than it had back then, but it was still the size of a country church with several seating areas, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a baby grand piano. He kicked back on the couch after his long trip in from Saint Lucia, letting her idea for the resorts’ marketing campaign sink in.
Her idea for finding me a wife…
“The concept is a proven win,” Trent said. “And if it were some other guy, I’d agree right away. But the process seems off-the-charts awkward, especially for me.” He took a swallow of Guinness from his glass and set it on the end table next to him. Classical music played quietly in the background. He often thought of Gran sitting in here in the evenings, reading the newspaper and having a cocktail.
“Finding someone to marry is always awkward, but it’s terribly difficult in your position.” Gran’s straight spine and tipped-up chin told him how confident she was in her idea. “Employees are off-limits, meeting the right tourist is unlikely, and your time is split among four different islands.”
Trent thought about his life in paradise. Sultry tropical breezes, picture-perfect sunsets, moonlit walks on the beach…alone. “It’s really kind of lonely.” Some guys might not reveal such personal feelings to their grandmothers, but he’d always been comfortable telling Gran nearly anything. And that honesty had helped save his butt on several occasions. As unrealistic as it seemed, this time it might get him a wife. But his taste in women might not align with what Gran had in mind.
“So who are the ‘young ladies’ you’ve invited?” he asked, because getting the basics wrong would definitely be a deal breaker.
Gran gave him that pointed look with pursed lips that told him he’d be foolish to doubt her judgment. He was surprised that hadn’t been the expression she’d chosen for the large portrait of herself that hung over the fireplace mantel. She stared him down from both angles. “I’ll get Cynthia to brief you on them when you two meet in the morning.”
“Cynthia’s in on it, too?” What must Gran’s assistant think of such a plan? Trent hadn’t seen Cynthia for years, but he remembered her being gawky and Goth. She’d probably had her fair share of weird ideas, so this one might not have seemed so strange to her. He supposed he couldn’t really worry about what anyone thought if he was going to make this plan work—for himself and the resorts. He had to put everything into the effort to make it genuine, because that’s what he wanted it to be.
He’d had enough surface relationships along the way that hadn’t amounted to much. Being alone so often now gave him plenty of time to realize he’d outgrown his date-as-many-girls-as-you-can stage—been past it for a while now. He’d seen his friends find genuine happiness. Liza married Cole. Paige found love with Lane. He’d been punched in the gut by what he was missing. Someone to share his life with, not just a night or two. He wanted things to be different this time. But was this really the way to go about finding that special someone?
“Should we at least take a few pitches from ad agencies?” he asked, amazed at how quickly his confidence gave way to doubt. He’d never imagined his personal life captured by cameras and intended for future broadcast. “Just in case.”
A violin crescendo coincided with Gran’s narrowing her shrewd gaze on him. “In case of what?”
In case they have a better idea? Words best left unsaid. Gran’s mind set like superglue when she had an idea she liked. Maybe he could approach it another way.
“Should we do something less elaborate?” he asked.
“Certainly not. Your grandfather and I never asked ourselves that when we built the resorts, and I’ve never heard you ask that about anything else we’ve done since you’ve been running things.”
She had a point, and she kept sticking him with it.
“Why would we scale back now?” she continued. “It’s imperative that we increase business and stay ahead of our competition, now more than ever.” The creases in her forehead deepened. “Economies are struggling worldwide.” She leveled a determined gaze on him. “Not all of us will survive.”
Trent couldn’t argue, and he wouldn’t allow Hawthorne Resorts to go down on his watch.
“We’d invest a small fortune in any marketing campaign,” Gran said. “Might as well make it work to our maximum benefit. We’ll get remarkable promotional videos that are likely to go viral, you’ll get a lovely wife, and I’ll have more hope of living to see my great-grandchildren.”
Trent furrowed his brow. “Now you’re getting way ahead of yourself.” But the idea of having a couple of kids someday appealed to him. He imagined their tiny footsteps echoing as they ran through the high-ceilinged halls of Hawthorne Manor, their laughter bubbling as they built sand castles on the beaches of Turks and Caicos. It was easy to get swept up in the fantasy of having a wife and family, but Gran’s plan to make it a reality seemed way too unrealistic.
He picked up his beer and took a long swallow. “I’m worried that the timeline is a little tight, and there’s a huge risk involved.”
He’d never gotten away with nuance with Gran. “I’m not sure I’ll fall for any of the girls, much less be ready to propose in a couple of months. That kind of thing takes time for both people involved.”
“I’m more worried you’ll fall for all of them,” Gran said with a wily grin. “As for timing, you’ll know love when you find it. There’s no need to take things slowly.” She got a soft, winsome look in her eyes. “Your grandfather and I got married three weeks after we met.”
“And you had fifty-one blissful years together.” He repeated what he’d heard her say so many times before.
She reached over and clutched his hand, her grip surprisingly tight, her palm warm against his fingers. “I’m hoping that will happen for you, too. But you have to believe it can.”
The antique grandfather clock struck nine and he waited through all the chimes. After the echo of the last one had wafted out into the hallway, he said, “I do,” because he knew that’s what she wanted to hear. But truth be told, he wasn’t really sure.