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Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Proposal (SWANK #1) by Maya Hughes

A Review by Wendy
4 It's Only The Start Stars
* * * *
 Spoiler Free

When Maya Hughes decided to create a series about five men who had intricate ties, she had to figure out how to weave them into the first entry yet not have them intrude. How to tease the readers into wanting to know why each man had their own quirks, why the dynamic between some of the men was the way it was, and still have a full-blown singular romance story for the first chosen guy.

Yup, that's a handful, Ms. Maya did all of it. With The Proposal The Proposal (SWANK, #1), she hit the trifecta of creating. She gave us a complete story, multi-layered, teased with interest for the other fellas, and lots of heart.

This entry begins with the cute/not cute meet of Zara and Leo.

Zara has her hands full, no literally, she has her hands full.
It is her Monday free coffee/croissant day. Zara has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her parents are useless. Zara has a wonderful younger brother she has taken all of the responsibility for...paying his way so he can go to a performance boarding school. He is extremely talented and she will do whatever is necessary to provide for him. This causes her to pinch pennies until they scream and figure out "Hacks" so she is able to have one perfect cup of coffee and chocolate croissant once a week for free. It is her one time to feel like a regular person.

Zara works for an event planning company as an assistant. Her immediate boss is the spoiled obnoxious daughter of the owner. Her main focus is to make Zara's life miserable rather than doing her job. The only highlight for Zara at work is her bestie, the Wonderwoman of IT. She looks out for Zara, takes no crap from the company, and always has Zara's back.

Leo has his own issues. He was a pro football player who has had his career ended by an injury. This has caused Leo to feel lost. From the moment he had a football put into his little hands during that first PeeWee game until his time on the SuperBowl field, football was his life. No college to give him a Plan B. No huge career where people would come in droves to his car dealership if he had one. Nope, the only thing that might fit is to be a color commentator for the sport if ESPN will have him.

The one thing Leo did when he got his football advance and contract was to make sure he would have money when it was all over. He knew of too many past players who ended up strapped because they didn't protect what they had. Leo knew his family was takers... and to make sure he would have something when it was all over, he locked up his money in a trust.

That was smart but also put him in a really difficult position. He only got a specific amount every quarter. This limited what he could do and tied his hands when he wanted to help his one uncle he loved. The uncle and his partner own an event planning company and when things became difficult for them due to the uncle having cancer, it killed Leo he couldn't help. Now the partner is in real trouble and Leo has decided to work for him for free while he figures out what the hell to do with his life.

So It Is Zara's Monday.

She is in a hurry, attempting to get to the office before the wicked witch starts up with her while carrying her precious coffee/croissant, and dealing with some emails on her phone. BAM, she is hit by a mountain of a man with the slow motion of her special coffee spilling all over her blouse and the croissant falling to the ground.

Leo is stunned by the crash into this beautiful woman and he is about to say sorry, etc. when the accusations coming from those lush lips take him back. Zara is saying he should have been looking where he was going, he then banters back she should have not had her head in the phone. The collision ends with not nice things being said and they part.

Zara has more trauma in the office from her bit@h boss and is off to meet with another event company to partner on a huge project. This project could pay her the necessary bucks she needs to help her brother. A lot is on the line for Zara so she is hoping to make things happen.

Well, after Zara meets the owner, he is letting Zara know she will be working with his new planner. In comes the planner, and yes, you guessed it, Leo.

Naturally, this is not a situation made in heaven. These two knock heads more than the most superstitious person alive. Zara is motivated to make this perfect with the need of her paycheck and possible bonus. Leo needs to make this happen so his uncle's company can stay open. Together they work to put together their presentation to the client.

I share all of this because it is important to understand the motivation they have when an assumption happens during their pitch. It causes a fib of engagement and that is where all of this takes off.

The Proposal has so many layers to this tale. Zara and Leo go through serious arcs. Leo's is more straight forward. He is a what you see is what you get kind of guy and I would like to get a Leo any day. He does have some real issues and they are exposed during his interactions with his crew. His stripping of long-held assumptions was important and he was man enough to see his mistakes. He also was so caring with Zara. He had a huge mountain to climb with her but when he decided to do it, he was willing to proceed.

Zara was much more of a challenge for me and for Leo. She had numerous past experiences that colored how she saw things and reenforced her inability to trust. She is not touchy-feely for the reader causing moments of frustration. In the end, though, she ends up opening up and being the person she wanted to be all along thanks to Leo.

As to our other fellas...Oh Boy. Maya has teased us well. There is going to be future angst, bickering, and all sorts of fun. She has already given us placeholders for the next books. Don't worry, they will be coming shortly.

Maya Hughes is an Amazon Top 50 author of swoon-worthy, laugh out loud, and emotional new adult and contemporary romances. Add Maya's upcoming books to your TBR today!

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