Miranda Woodruff, star of the homebuilding show “From the Ground Up,” will do anything to keep the job she loves. Due to a painful broken engagement and a faith she’s mostly forgotten, she’s let her entire identity become wrapped up in the Miranda everyone sees onscreen. So when she receives news that the network might cancel her program, she must do the very thing she fears most: let the spotlight shine on her closely guarded personal life. The only problem? She’s been living a lie–letting viewers believe she’s married–and now she’s called upon to play wife to a sweet, if a bit goofy, pretend husband to boost ratings.
Desperate to help his family and prove he’s not a total failure, reporter Matthew Knox is looking for a breakout story. When he’s offered the opportunity to do an online serial feature on Miranda Woodruff, he jumps at the chance, even if celebrity reporting isn’t really his thing. But as soon as he meets Miranda, he knows she’s keeping secrets.
When Miranda’s former fiancé suddenly appears on the scene again, she doubts her life could get more complicated. Juggling three guys, an on-the-rocks television show, and the potential exposure of her deception is way more than she bargained for. Can the woman who makes things look so good onscreen admit it’s time to tell the truth about who she is? And if she does, will the life Miranda’s built come crashing down just as she’s finally found a love to last?
If the television in my home is on, it is tuned to either The Mindy Project (hello comedic genius) or HGTV, so Made to Last is right up my alley with a heroine who wields a hammer as well as her wit with precision. The “fake husband leads to true love” storyline is a familiar one, but Melissa Tagg turns the old ruse on its head by introducing a love interest who is not the pseudo-husband. What ensues is a convoluted plot of romantic parries and thrusts, deception and forgiveness.
It is uncommon to find a romance in which the main character is not painted as the perfect heroine and the new take is intriguing. The reader acts like an invested spectator as Miranda and Matthew stumble across the hurdles that her fictitious marriage creates. Randi places Matthew in a situation where he unnecessarily berates himself for “adulterous” thoughts and struggling through a moral dilemma that is not of his making. Wrought with the guilt of being the “other man” in a fake marriage, his anger when discovering the truth is justified and merited. Melissa Tagg creates a unique situation in which the reader is just as demanding for Miranda’s repentance as Matthew. And yet, Randi is never the enemy; she is a flawed and hurting woman who made some bad decisions. Who can’t relate with that?
Once the uneasiness of their relationship is resolved, the flourishing romance–while still with its struggles and personal battles–is accented with wonderful humour (Melissa Tagg has great comedic timing) and moving moments. Modern chivalry is exemplified by both Matthew and the “husband” Blaze (who better get his own book because I am more than halfway in love with him!) in their endearing efforts to protect Randi from media vultures and the return of her real almost-husband.
Melissa Tagg’s debut shows an author who understands the intricacies of human nature and how to draw reactions from her audience. With deeper material and tension than is commonly found in romantic comedies, Made to Last is chick-lit with substance. Guaranteed laugh out loud scenes and dialogue are matched with introspective moments of emotional healing. Fall in love with Melissa’s characters and message.