Marriage for One by Ella Maise is a marriage of convenience contemporary romance. This isn’t a book review but an actual summary of what happens in the story, so keep in mind there will be spoilers ahead.
- Book Title: Marriage for One
- Author: Ella Maise
- Publication Date: May 8, 2019
- Category: Contemporary Romance
- Print Length: 520 Pages
The story opens with a disaster of a wedding between Rose Coleson and Jack Hawthorne. Rose’s aunt and uncle recently passed. She was supposed to rent a space for her new coffee shop from him for two years, but if she married, the property would go to her husband. One of her cousins, Bryan, is strongly against giving her the property. Her other cousin, Jodi, does not care. However, her ex-fiancé, Joshua, broke up with her via text days after her uncle’s passing. Jack is a lawyer at the firm responsible for the uncle’s will, so he is aware of her dilemma and offers to marry her in exchange for owning the property, plus the appearance of being a family man and a plus one to events.
Immediately after the wedding, Rose is crying in the car, and Jack says it was a mistake. He then leaves for a business trip to London. Rose imagines he will want a divorce, so she doesn’t move into his apartment. She sets to work on the space so she can open the coffee shop within a month along with her employees, Owen and Sally. Bryan shows up to harass Rose. Jack appears, gets rid of Bryan, and helps her finish painting, then insists she moves in with him. After she moves in with him, she tries her best to avoid him. He comes by the shop every evening to pick her up.
After a few weeks, he asks her to come with him to dinner with some of the other law firm partners and a client. She does, and he tries quietly to make sure she has a nice evening. One of the other partners is Jack’s ex, Samantha, who is rude to Rose. The dinner was awkward because they didn’t sort out their story or figure out how they would act in public.
Jack keeps coming to the shop each evening to help. He then comes to the opening at Rose’s request, and she introduces him to Sally and Owen. He tries to buy coffee for his whole office, but she won’t let him pay. Rose is still leaving the house early every morning to avoid Jack, and gets dizzy and falls in Central Park. He comes to get her and carries her the rest of the way to work. After that, he insists that she allow their driver, Raymond, to take her to work every morning. Rose can befriend anyone, so she makes friends with Raymond and their doorman and inspires Jack to be a bit friendlier. At work, Jack’s assistant, Cynthia, is pushing Jack to tell Rose the truth about why he married her. He didn’t care about the property. He saw her at a Christmas party her uncle threw, smiling at her fiancé, and wanted her.
Jack takes Rose to a charity event for foster children, which is close to her heart. She ended up living with her uncle’s family after her dad passed when she was a child. They only took her in for appearance’s sake, and she grew up emotionally neglected. At the event, Rose befriends two of the children, Maddy and Sierra, and she and Jack spend time with them. Joshua is there with Jodi, which stings, but Rose insists they stay because she doesn’t want to give Joshua and Jodi satisfaction.
While Rose is talking to Maddy and Sierra, Bryan comes over, grabs her arm hard enough to hurt, and tells her she’s embarrassing them all. Jack intervenes and takes Rose back to their table. Once there, he kisses her. She thinks it’s because Joshua is watching them. Jack is trying so hard to make her happy. He smiles for the first time, which delights her because she’s been trying to track his smiles. Rose is sick with a non-stop runny nose. She’s also had issues with dizziness and headaches recently, so they do leave early.
Rose considers it and goes to Jack’s study in the middle of the night for more kissing practice after a dream about being in love with him. She also agrees to go to the doctor. A few days later, after her appointment, she goes to Jack’s office for comfort. She may have a cerebrospinal leak. Jack asks her on an actual date and says they’ll take each thing as it comes. He also decides he doesn’t care what he has to do to be with Rose, as long as he can be with her. He takes her to the ENT, and Rose gets upset about not upholding her end of the deal if she gets surgery. Jack says he doesn’t care. He stays with Rose while she gets an MRI because she is claustrophobic and terrified.
The MRI confirms she does need surgery. The night before, Jack cooks for her. They decide that him cooking pasta on Mondays will be one of their couple’s traditions. The next morning, right before surgery, Rose says she wants to stop pretending and have an actual relationship. She likes him and is pretty sure he likes her as well.
The surgery takes a long time, and Jack is beside himself, but eventually, he’s able to see Rose. She is okay but needs to stay in the hospital for several days. After that, she needs two weeks of bed rest and then to be quiet and careful for three more months to avoid putting any additional pressure on her brain. Part of no pressure on her brain means no sex for three months, which really complicates Rose’s plan for a real relationship. Jack stays with her in the hospital and cares for her after.
When she gets back to work at the café, he brings her flowers and sees how happy she is with their relationship. He decides he won’t ever tell her about why he offered to marry her. Joshua shows up and halfway apologizes for the breakup and then gets with Jodi. Joshua threatens Jack and tells him to answer his calls, or his tongue may slip around Rose. Later, Jack threatens him in return.
Jack and Rose spend Christmas together. For the first time since she was a little kid, Rose feels like she has a family. Jack will always have her back and be there for her, and she will do the same for him. Rose asks Jack to sleep with her in both senses of the word. He has been the one putting her off because of the potential for further brain issues, so he finally breaks and gives her a hand job. The café is doing really well. Rose’s employees, Sally and Owen, start dating.
Two months after her surgery, Rose had another MRI to check if her membrane had healed. Jack stays with her for it again, calming her. After, they go on their first official date to a small Italian restaurant. After, Jack reveals that he called her doctor, and she is completely healed, although she does need to be careful because she could have another tear in the future. She is also cleared for sex, so they take advantage of that.
The next day, Joshua shows up at the café and insists on talking to Rose. He waits an hour to speak to her, even though he had never had the patience for her before. He says that Jack paid him to break up with Rose and that he was too scared to say no. Rose goes to Jack’s office to confront him. Jack knows instantly that something is wrong and isn’t surprised when she relates what Joshua said.
He tells her that Joshua is a con artist and has stolen money before, choosing vulnerable women with access to money. He thought Rose was closer to her uncle when he initially chose her but stuck around to ingratiate himself to Gary anyway, just in case. Jack paid him off before Joshua learned about the will, which angered him, so he came back multiple times asking for money. Jack kept paying until the time Joshua showed up at the café and upset Rose. He was certain Joshua was going to leave her alone. Jack also paid off Bryan, giving him twice the value of the café space to get him to leave Rose alone.
Rose is upset mostly that he lied to her and started their marriage off on a falsehood. She doesn’t know that she will ever be able to trust him again. Rose tells Jack she doesn’t think he is capable of loving anyone and then leaves. She has moved out by the time he returns to the apartment that evening.
Rose spends the night in the café. At one point, when she goes to the front to get a book, she sees Jack waiting outside in the snow. She leaves him out there but starts to think about it. She does know he loves her and that he gave her a chance at the one thing she always wanted but never had: a family. All the same, she doesn’t know if she can ever trust him again. Jack leaves when Owen shows up.
This continues with Jack waiting outside after he is done with work. She talks to him once but is still hurt and upset. Rose goes to stay with Sally and is surprised to find that she is upset not to see him outside the window. She is also upset when he disappears for several days with no warning. When he returns, he actually comes into the café and asks to speak with her.
He has divorce papers for her to sign and says it would be the best thing for her, so it is what he wants to do as well. She digs her heels in and refuses to sign. He can’t understand why because, in his mind, this is what she wants. He leaves the papers with her and says he’ll send someone to pick them up.
Rose doesn’t sign. Jack comes back to try to convince her in person, but Owen and Sally refuse to tell him where she is. He stops off at Joshua’s place to punch him in the face and tell him off for upsetting Rose. He tries Sally’s apartment, but Rose isn’t there. Then, out of ideas, he goes back to his own apartment.
Rose is baking an apple pie in their kitchen. She informs him that they won’t be getting divorced and tries to pick a fight. She does want to be in a relationship with him, but they can’t be together if they can’t trust each other. Jack says they can start over if she wants, but Rose would prefer they move forward together. They have an honest conversation, and Jack finally tells her the truth about how they met. Gary introduced them at a party, and Jack was taken with her.
When he saw her again, she was playing with a puppy, and he wanted to talk to her. But then Joshua showed up, and it was clear that she only had eyes for him. However, Joshua didn’t ever give her his full attention. Had she been single, Jack probably would have approached her, but she wasn’t and wasn’t his type, to boot. But he did his homework, found out about Joshua’s past, and decided to pay him off so she wouldn’t be further hurt if she married a con artist. He really wanted a chance to know her, and marriage was his best idea. He was distant at first because he didn’t want her to feel obligated to like him because of what he was doing for her. But he couldn’t stay away, which is why he showed up every night and helped her set up the shop. They mutually agree to keep being married.
In the epilogue, Jack comes to the coffee shop a month later because he wants to discuss their five-year marriage plan. He makes a whole speech, almost vows, about how much he loves her and how he intends to be whoever she needs.
Jack and I, we did everything backward. The day he lured me into his office-which was also the first day we met-he proposed. You’d think a guy who looked like him-a bit cold maybe, but still striking and very unattainable-would only ask the love of his life to marry him, right? You’d think he must be madly in love.
Nope. It was me he asked. A complete stranger who had never even heard of him. A stranger who had been dumped by her fiancé only weeks before. You’d think I’d laugh in his face, call him insane-and a few other names-then walk away as quickly as possible. Well…I did all those things except the walking away part.
It took him only minutes to talk me into a business deal…erm, I mean marriage, and only days for us to officially tie the knot. Happiest day of my life. Magical. Pop the champagne… Not. It was the worst day. Jack Hawthorne was nothing like what I’d imagined for myself.
I blamed him for my lapse in judgment. I blamed his eyes, the ocean blue eyes that looked straight into mine unapologetically, and that frown on his face I had no idea I would become so fascinated with in time.
It wasn’t long after he said I was the biggest mistake of his life that things started to change. No, he still didn’t talk much, but anyone can string a few words together. His actions spoke the loudest to me. And day after day my heart started to get a mind of its own.
One second he was no one. The next he became everything.
One second he was unattainable. The next he seemed to be completely mine.
One second I thought we were in love. The next it was still nothing but a lie.
After all, I was Rose and he was Jack. We were doomed from the very beginning with those names. Did you expect anything else?