REVIEW: “A Brit Unexpected” by Brenda St. John Brown

“A Brit Unexpected” is an entertaining and sexy little “Arrangement” romance.  Brenda St. John Brown weaves a story about a slightly unscrupulous grandmother setting her granddaughter up with a movie star.  The movie star’s manager/grandfather happens to be dating the calculating grandmother.  Claire’s a normal wholesome girl working in a coffee shop while attending university.  Her mother died when she was young and was raised by her emotionally unavailable grandmother.  Claire has a difficult time trusting people and when pressed, emotionally, she runs away.  The Hero, Greyson’s a Hollywood actor who recently broke-up with a Taylor Swift-type pop star.  The singer is a mudslinger attempting to make herself look good at Greyson’s professional expense.  Since Greyson’s a popular actor he’s used to people wanting to get close to him because of his celebrity.  He’s distrustful and seldom allows himself to drop his public celebrity persona and be his true self.

Brenda St. John Brown provides an intriguing storyline with emotionally engaging characters.  Both the Hero and Heroine are extremely distrustful.  Not only that they are terrible at reading the other’s signals they are horrible at sending out the right ones.  Greyson and Claire’s grandparents are sufficiently meddling combined with cold and calculating mercenary streaks.  At least Greyson’s grandfather has an excuse, he’s his PR advisor.  The secondary characters are amusing and colorful.  The pacing is steady and peppy and the action, though subtle, has you hooked.

Claire’s invited for a weekend at Castle Calder a castle turned hotel.  Her best friend’s the owners’ daughter and Claire has worked there during many the summers, she feels like family.  When she arrives she literally bumps into the handsome and popular Hollywood movie star Greyson Vaughn.  Claire thinks he happens to be merely another hotel guest.  She knows her grandmother is already in residence with her latest boyfriend, which she’d rather not think about.  When Claire arrives for cocktails she learns she is to be Greyson Vaughn’s pretend girlfriend during their stay.  Greyson is resentful of this development and assumes Claire is a member of the planning committee from the start.  Claire makes it clear that she found out, about the ruse, mere minutes before he did.

Greyson’s grandfather, his PR advisor, believes he needs a wholesome “girlfriend” to fight accusations of stalking his ex-girlfriend is making.  The accusations are causing Greyson to not get cast in many roles he would normally be considered for.  So the idea is to present Claire as Greyson’s love interest to show he isn’t “pining away” for his ex.  It’s Greyson’s grandfather who offers Claire money and since she needs money she won’t turn it away.  But all Greyson knows is that Claire is receiving payment for this “job”.  When their banter and flirting become real and the desire to kiss is strong Greyson wonders if it’s the money.  While Claire thinks it’s Greyson’s acting abilities rather than genuine emotion.  Greyson’s ex still casts doubt on the cozy photos that are leaked of the couple.

Claire plans an escape from her opportunistic grandmother.  She takes Greyson to an out of the way place on the Castle grounds, the Clubhouse.  With some wine and a cozy blanket for the sofa Claire and Greyson talk and get to know each other.  Their frank conversation loosens them up but their passionate kiss is interrupted by a couple of aggressive paparazzi.  Greyson accuses Claire of putting the photographers up to it; Claire feels emotionally pushed so she runs.  The next morning Greyson leaves the hotel before she wakes.  The pictures the paparazzi took kill the ex’s accusations but light a firestorm of questions about Greyson’s mystery girl.  Greyson calls Claire when she’s on her way home in Bath to check if she’s okay.  He asks her to attend his London movie premier with him so that the public’s curiosity will die down.  Claire accepts his invitation for a date.

During the week Claire and Greyson exchange a multitude of texts and sexts.  When they finally see each other they kiss as though they are long lost loves.  But Claire has to leave Greyson almost immediately to get a dress then hair and make-up before the red carpet.  During the premier after party Claire feels neglected.  Greyson says something which leads her to believe he still regards her as a fake girlfriend.  Unfortunately, Claire’s feelings for Greyson are growing and she’s falling in love with him.  Claire’s a girl who normally avoids, or sabotages, steady relationships; once again Claire’s ready to go on the run.

“A Brit Unexpected” was a delightfully unexpectedly entertaining and romantic read.  I wasn’t familiar with Brenda St. John Brown’s work nor her Calder Castle series.  I’m glad I stumbled across it.  The premise is fun and intriguing right away.  Claire and Greyson get off to a slow start with their sexual and romantic chemistry.  Off the bat their banter’s witty and amusing, they give great flirt, and they have some delightfully steamy sex.  The secondary characters are wonderfully colorful and there’s a lot of mention of really tasty food.  So have a snack before reading.

I’m giving “A Brit Unexpected 4 Lightning Bolts and a Gale Warning.

 

This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed

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