Carrie Gray has a very annoying neighbor. She’s a house sitter for a wealthy prince who owns apartment 12B, and the millionaire playboy next door, Trent Tanford, just can’t seem to give his girlfriends proper directions to apartment 12A! “Tanford’s Troops” come knocking at all hours of the day and night, looking for him, and she finally decides it’s time to talk to him about it!
Trent’s being questioned by the police about the recent death-by-apparent-suicide of the woman from apartment 6A, whom Trent had dated a couple of times. He…does that. A lot. He has always stayed away from commitments, and been very clear about it with his dates–four weeks, no more, and never staying around past 7 AM. His father, head of the AMS Media empire, though, has had enough of this scandalous behavior, and gives Trent an ultimatum: marry, within the week, and take over as head of AMS–or resign!
Those pretty, clueless women that Trent has dated for so long just won’t do, though–all money, and no brains, and dear old dad said that won’t work. So Trent’s thoughts turn to his pretty, somewhat-nerdy neighbor…
I said in a previous post that I don’t normally care for the Must Marry To Inherit trope too much, but this one really engaged me. I really can identify pretty well with Carrie; she’s kind of nerdy and bookish, and is understandably enraged when, the second time he sees her, Trent proposes marriage to her. She has an aging, ill mother to take care of, though, and the deal Trent proposes the next day is just too good to turn down. It doesn’t take long before the nice guy under the facade that Trent has put up starts to emerge, and that starts to wear down her idea that this is a business arrangement and nothing more.
Trent and Carrie both have trouble with trust issues, a feeling I can identify well with, and there are things they don’t tell each other right up front, which causes the friction between them. The resolution of these issues at the end is really sweet and wonderful. The intimate moments are intense, frequent, vivid, and start much earlier in the book than I’m used to seeing, even in the Silhouette Desire line.
I hesitate to call it a weakness, because it actually works, but the secondary characters in this book strike me as just a little bit one-dimensional. Carrie’s two friends, who are the subjects of other books in this continuity, interrogate her mercilessly about her sudden relationship with “that jerk in 12A”, but the way that they came to acceptance of it just struck me as a little bit abrupt and contrived. Trent’s father, too, just seemed a little bit too single-minded in his push to get Trent married off, then once he does, he vanishes utterly from the story. Carrie’s mother (who has Alzheimer’s) is portrayed very sensitively, but since she doesn’t get out of her apartment and needs 24/7 care, it’s hard for her to be a big interactive part of the story; in one of her lucid moments, though, she talks to Carrie about why her father had left so abruptly, and this clears the air some for Carrie.
The supporting cast in Front Page Engagement is not that strong, yet somehow, the story just works without them. Rather than spend time on external conversations, we spend time inside Trent and Carrie’s heads, exploring their feelings and conflict in somewhat more depth than is usual for this line. The concept of this continuity, an exclusive New York City apartment building where there has been a recent death, is really solid, and lends itself to lots of great stories. I highly recommend this book.