I don't usually read contemporary romance of any kind, and this is in fact the first harlequin I've ever paid for. I can't therefore say how this book compares with others of it's kind, but I can say that I really enjoyed it.
At first glance this seemed gimmicky to me--Dan and Jo are best friends who long ago made a marriage pact as a joke, which Dan then decides to take seriously. He starts planning the wedding against Jo's wishes and does everything possible to talk her into it. It sounds silly, I realize. But there is a lot more going on in this book then is apparent. In the interest of not spoiling the story, I'll just say that Jo and Dan have both been through and are still going through a lot of tough stuff. They are problems which I believe a lot of people can relate to.
Dan is an ex-soldier, now returned home for good and wants to take over the family farm. After the trama he experienced at war, he just wants a normal and happy life. This is partly why he fixates on the idea of a fast marriage of convenience with his best friend. Over time, however, Dan discovers that his feelings run deeper then that, and struggle to come to terms with those feelings as well as a number of other issues in his life.
Jo is a great female lead, all the way around. She's tough, smart, flawed but easy to relate to. She's struggled with a demanding career, ailing grandmother, and burdensome secrets that have lead her to stop hoping for a husband and family. The way in which each issue is resolved is emotional, imperfect and realistic, and just generally very well written. I love that this book delivers a happily ever after ending without becomming sugary sweet.
I'm giving this book 4.5 stars, because there was just one plot aspect that I did not like. I won't spoil it, but near the end there is a rather contrived and silly plan on Jo's part that had me cringing. This aside, the plot of the book had excellent flow and good taste. Overall, I highly recommend this book as a quick and satisfying feel good read.