Author: Stella Gray
Publisher/Year: Stella Gray 4/13/21
Length: 300 Pages
Series: The Charade #2
It was always going to end in heartbreak.
You can’t pretend-marry the man you secretly love and escape unscathed.
Ford has never hesitated to ask for my help before, but this is the farthest he’s asked me to go. Not that I ever say no to him.
Even when I know I should.
Sleeping with my husband is the best worst idea possible.
It’s everything I dreamed it would be.
But everything to me is nothing to him.
And he’s not the only one I’ve made promises to.
This story was never meant to be easy, and as we enter into this second installment, we see that easy is not something that’s even in the back of our minds. When we left the first book, we saw the ultimatum/deal that Ford’s parents put in front of Emzee and she had no choice but to take it. While her own personal feelings, stemming back years and years were leading her down one path, she had no choice but to accept the offer of Ford’s family bailing her own family out, at the compromise of walking away from Ford. Just when she thought there was something real between them.
We’ll remember that there was an unbalanced relationship between these two – Emzee was in love with Ford yet he wasn’t there really. He was always using Em as a fall back and as a safety net of sorts. It’s only when this charade takes hold that he sees her as something more. He came to the realization that he loved her, and just at that point, Emzee had to break his heart.
So the journey that we go on in book two is watching the wedding take place – knowing that emotions became even more complicated. We see them go on a honeymoon in this awkward phase of their relationship where they don’t know how to act with each other anymore. We see them come back to the real world, and watch how Ford won’t allow any concessions to Em in his home and his life. While they have a routine, it’s still clear to Em that she’ll never fit in. His parents make it clear that they wish Ford was still with his ex and his Ex still feels as though she’s the woman for him.
There’s a lot of mis-trust in this story. We watch the insecurities that Em has in herself and her relationship come to fruition when Ford continues to flirt and entertain the advances of Claudia. Refusing to remove things that she put in his apartment in exchange for Em being ale to make her own personal touches. We watch as Ford gets jealous when Em entertains a job prospect by a man who clearly finds her attractive and uses that against her. So you can only imagine that part of this is to amp up the hate sex, but part of it is a power dynamic that no one is willing to allow to shift.
So much continues to be an obstacle for our characters. Em’s family still has to deal with the Russian Mafia and her siblings are all trying to plan for what’s next knowing that they’ll lose the business. They all have game plans and worry that Em won’t have them. That she’l have to rely on Ford but they dont’ realize that the relationship with Ford has an expiration date, so she’s really left playing the part of secure when she’s anything but.
The roller coaster continues – and we watch how there’s an understanding that Ford and Em come to in their relationship. Despite all the forces against them, they admit that they share the same feelings for one another and that they will make things work. It’s no surprise that just as things start to fall into place, something comes up that makes them veer off path. That something is information that Claudia shares that causes Emzee’s world to implode. We’re left at a point where there’s really no coming back from the information and whatever was possible for them is now irrevocably lost. This also means that perhaps the deal that Ford’s parents forced Em into is the best solution for everyone since there’s nothing good that can come to them in the future. I don’t know about anyone else, but these twists and turns lead to such intense dynamic shifts, exciting highs and lows, and great passion. So…..I guess i’ll have to wait for book three some how – and I don’t think i’ll be that patient! Enjoy!