|Barbara McCauley has written first a trilogy and now a longer series about Wolf River, Texas, and several families there. The early books received strong reviews and more recent tales only 3 hearts. But in this installation of the Secrets series, she has returned to earlier form. Miss Pruitt’s Private Life is funny, sensual, and good romance.
Evan Carter’s brother Jacob is about to be married to Wolf River businesswoman Clair Beauchamp (featured in That Blackhawk Bride). Evan is a construction contractor, living out of his trailer as he moves from site to site. He likes the nomad life and getting married is the last thing on his mind. He likes women and they like him too much for him to settle down.
Marcy Pruitt is a shy, but successful businesswoman in her own right. She has written a number of do-it-yourself books that actually made the bestseller list, she owns and writes her own magazine about crafts and low-cost home makeovers, and she is about to embark on her own TV show. But she needs a break and she is taking it: three glorious weeks to attend first a bridal shower, and then the wedding of her college best friend, Clair. And she hopes to do so incognito so she can truly relax.
Evan and Marcy first meet at the train station when Clair can’t get away to pick Marcy up. Marcy is being confronted by two women who think she is the famous Miss Pruitt and Evan saves her by acting as if she is his wife, kissing her to guarantee the deception. They are both shaken by that innocent kiss and the game is on. Evan denies the attraction, Marcy denies the attraction, and meanwhile everyone notices they can’t keep their eyes off each other. When they decide to embark on a partnership to build a chapel within a hotel so Clair has a place to get married, their destiny is sealed.
The fun is watching them both realize the outcome. While there is nothing new here, it is a fun story with plenty of hot action in the bedroom, easy bantering outside and a genuine opportunity for two people to get to know each other as they fall in love. McCauley’s style lends itself to feel good and warm fuzzy scenes while not overly dramatizing the whole thing. Evan and Marcy have some depth so getting to know them is like getting to know new friends. Evan is fun loving, warm, and caring. His bouts of jealousy are fun to watch. Marcy grew up plain and has little experience around men. While Evan’s sensuality makes her nervous, she is drawn to his personality and blossoms under his regard. Marcy could have been written so that she appeared gauche and naïve, but instead she is given business sense that has developed her personality and self-confidence without her even being aware of it. Once she recognizes her power, she goes after what she wants with enthusiasm and vibrancy that is delightful to see in a heroine.
The ending is a little on the syrupy side, but the result is true love and because the reader is engaged in their romance, the taste is sweet and heartwarming rather than sugary. Again, the writer’s skill is a key to making this work. There are plenty of references to previous stories and characters without ruining this story.
Pick up a copy of this new addition to the Secrets series. Miss Pruitt’s Private Life may just be enjoyable enough to make you go back to see how all the other Blackhawks won their spouses.