Going to the chapel and we’re going to get married.
First Published: 2012
Date Reviewed: 18th December 2012
When Connor finds Megan throwing up in his Vegas hotel bathroom, he realises things aren’t quite as good as he’d hoped, but he didn’t think that Megan would have forgotten the night before. Having approached him in order to silence her friends’ goading, Megan agreed to spend the evening with him, and, when it was obvious that despite first impressions the two strangers were incredibly compatible, she’d agreed to marry him, that night. It made sense – both were disillusioned with the idea of love, but both wanted children (in fact Megan was planning to opt for artificial insemination) and Connor especially wanted a partner who would fit his busy life as the founder of a big business. But now Megan is asking for a divorce that Connor doesn’t want to agree to so instead he proposes a trial marriage. Because they’re perfect for each other, right?
Waking Up Married is a predictable and familiar story told in an often different and very fun way. Based on ideas other books have used, the novel makes for an easy and fast read whilst offering a little to think about, too.
The characters, however, may be considered a let-down. At the beginning both are strong and confident, individuals who know what they want. Neither is the sort of person the other would usually go for, their lives being so different, but Kelly is brilliant at showing the reader how well they fit together, the sort of quick friendship that is echoed by the phrase “I feel I’ve known you all my life”. And because there are no expectations of romance at this point, it works very well. Megan is a particularly interesting character of the independent-woman variety, and Connor determined but respectful. The chemistry sizzles even when there is no contact and the idea that these two people are perfect for each other practically leaps off the page. By all accounts the content that follows the first flashback ought to have been very good.
But unfortunately, Waking Up Married suffers from a major issue. Megan agrees to live with Connor, seeing that although the idea of uprooting her life for a drunken marriage is crazy, Connor is correct in his reasoning that their relationship could very well work. The book goes downhill from here as Megan seems to undergo a personality change, asking herself all the questions that would make sense in any other book but due to her obvious compatibility with Connor does not here, and deciding to show her worst face to him everyday in the hope that she will either drive him away or know that he will like her regardless. And lest it be forgotten, the word is “like” because there was never any expectation of love, only affection. Some of the things Megan does are understandable, such as hanging around in her pyjamas all day because she works at home, but others just seem silly and utterly needless. This isn’t to say that Connor is perfect, because he isn’t, but he does keep his head on straight and thinks of the positive. And if the issues were to do with either of them falling in love it would be understandable, but at this point it’s not (that’s not a spoiler as the book’s very premise and genre make it predictable). The strong independent woman becomes annoying and insecure, and it makes no sense.
There are a few themes that, due to the book’s release year, inevitably invite comparisons with Fifty Shades Of Grey, despite the lack of kink in Kelly’s book. The interesting thing is that these things are all dealt with in the way that James ought to have dealt with them in her book but didn’t. Wanting more in the relationship whilst not being threatened, the rich business owner who doesn’t make his partner feel uncomfortable – the book is at times the antithesis of last year’s best-seller, which actually gives it more power, despite the vast difference in its overall nature.
However the way the characters come to realise their true feelings is rather sudden and not quite believable. Kelly uses moments such as the character remembering how they were looking at the other in a photograph as a light bulb moment, and this doesn’t work when there had been no mention of this sort of thing previously. That love enters the story is anticipated, but the text should have demonstrated that this was happening as the narrative unfolded.
The relationships of the couple’s parents are convenient, leaving both people disillusioned, but they are at least detailed and explained enough to be plausible. What is perhaps less plausible is Megan’s plan to have a baby as soon as possible. The reader isn’t told of the characters’ ages but it could be safety assumed the biological clock isn’t ticking too fast just yet. And although Megan’s reluctance to wait for another relationship when she finds staying difficult makes sense, her incessant need to stick to the plan and go back to it the moment things with Connor do not seem to be working strikes of selfishness. Indeed this is something a secondary character refers to.
8:42pm… REED: Need you to go to Denver w me.
8:46pm… JEFF: In meeting. Give me 1 hr.
8:53pm… REED: No can do. Want wife back. Going now. Think I cn talk her into it wth sperm. […] Have wht she wants. Solllid plan. Better than hers.
However for all the issues, Waking Up Married is not a bad book. It is often hilariously funny, with lines from Connor such as the above, and an interesting if not always nice cast of secondary characters. The sex scenes are good to read because of the compatibility of the characters, even when the scenes don’t necessarily move the story forward, and it is wonderful to have a book where one person is wealthy but it doesn’t affect the relationship besides the odd mention of a charity dinner or hotel room.
If the characters weren’t so fantastic at the beginning and didn’t regain that quality by the end, this book would have admittedly been average. But because of who they are, without the silly choices, the reader may find it difficult not to continue to the conclusion. Certainly despite protests to the contrary, that is exactly what Megan discovers.