Tag Team Review: Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

4.75 Heart avg!

Sara - 5 Hearts

This book right here is what I love about romance and why I am hooked on the Dreamspun series. I adored this story, my first from the author and I am writing this with a perma grin on my face because I can’t stop smiling. Goodness. This was delicious!

Crawford Hargrave is a serious man. He’s serious about his job, his family and about being as far away from his cheating ex-husband, Davis that he possibly can be. But when his boss assigns Crawford to do an audit on a flagship hotel in Canada and to work with Davis, Crawford has to agree or lose his job. He hates the fact that he will be there for at least two weeks working with Davis and also that he will be away from his brother Adam and his nephew Brandon whom he is close with. When Adam drops a bomb on Crawford right before he leaves, Crawford heads into his assignment with basically, nothing to lose.

Mateus Fontes is a family man, a man who though has a degree in Botany and his own vineyard back in Portugal has been working on his brother’s orchard in Washington on a tourist visa and plans to trick the immigration system so he can stay longer. Mateus’ brother and sister in law love him staying and don’t want him to get in trouble with the law but he assures them, a simple trip to Vancouver and back to Seattle in a day will reset his tourist visa and give them time to ready the orchard properly so they can hire Mateus. With nothing for him in Portugal and a life ahead of him in Washington, he heads to the airport for his round trip with nothing holding him back.

Told from the dual POV of our MC’s the men meet as their shared flight to Vancouver is delayed and then canceled. Over coffee and pretzels, the men begin to get to know one another and on a whim, Crawford suggests they rent a car and drive up to Vancouver so that they can get Mateus to his flight on time and kill a few birds on the trip while showing Mateus a few touristy spots he’s never seen.

Oh. Em. Gee. But this was freaking adorable. I am such a sucker for the fake marriage trope and when the men reach the border to Canada and the whole “Actually, we are engaged” deal happened I was giddy. When they men find out that they have to get married right away, I was stupidly happy and then, when they learn Mateus cannot return to the United States without Crawford meaning they would have to spend Crawford’s work trip together, at the hotel, pretending to be married, I was falling off my chair because my knees were weak with all that was gonna happen.

To say this romance is a slow burn is putting it lightly but it burns with such an undertone of sensuality and UST that I would allow myself to be burned by it repeatedly.

Crawford and Mateus have an instant connection and amazing chemistry that their relationship from marriage to crush to friendship and more, came off the page with such emotions that I spend at least the last 50% of the book with my hand to my chest, sighing with tears in my eyes. These two want so much but with a relationship, a marriage based on a lie they tread the waters of want so carefully as to not take advantage of one another. But I kept telling them it was okay, go on and do it because we all want it to happen. Yes, I was that involved in the story that my opinion mattered regardless if the newlyweds were aware of it on the page. *shrugs*

Goodness but this was so good. It was gooey in the right places with the perfect amount of jealousy sprinkled in to allow the men to get possessive. Mateus and how he deals with Davis were a pure joy to read and Crawford’s natural and spontaneous instinct when it comes to Mateus is swoon worthy. Even though there are road bumps these men face along the way, they come to a wonderful conclusion and connection that had me in happy tears at my desk.

That end? Perfect and swoon worthy and just cinematic and so damn romantic.

Yup, this one was so good and I am so happy I read it.

Let me go attempt to wipe this grin off my face now.

SheReadsALot - 4.5 Hearts

And now I have another book to add to my top favorites Dreamspun Desires list!

I've been fluffed. Pour it all over my face, baby. Just watch me melt.

Mateus is a Portuguese botanist who is staying with his brother and pregnant sister-in-law on their orchard in Washington state. Mateus is helping with his family's failing orchard and wants to stay in America. Unfortunately, he has an expiring tourist visa and searched online for a scheme to stay in the country: go to Canada, get his visa stamped and reset and return to America for another 3 months. Sounds too good to be true?

It's because it is.

Luckily, older stoic boutique hotel auditor/ businessman Crawford is being forced to Canada for work. His boss is sending him to the chain's failing Vancouver hotel for the next two weeks... along with Crawford's ex-husband. The bitter divorce happened three years ago and he's still jaded from his cheating ex. He doesn't believe love exists.

Thanks to a plane delay in Seattle, love weary Crawford meets Mateus and the connection is imminent. They strike up a conversation and are just vibing off each other over Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets out of all things. The delay becomes a cancelled flight and the new acquaintances are thrown together through a series of events. And events get crazier as an impromptu drive to the Canadian border becomes Mateus not being able to cross either side of the border.

Ring a ling ling, did someone call a knight in shining armor?

Crawford obviously heard the call and he rescues Mateus.

Older, jaded hero meets younger loyal family man who just wants to stay and help the orchard...

And then a fake marriage trope is added to help save the day.

Those tropes were a cracky fluff jackpot and I... ate... it... up!

Bru Baker wrote fleshed out main characters in Crawford and Mateus. She built a solid foundation by showcasing a glimpse of their daily lives. Crawford is a point where he's not exactly happy, his only family connection a brother and nephew he helped raise are going to move away. So there is nothing really holding him in Los Angeles. And Mateus wants to leave Portugal to help out with his only sibling's growing family. All the characters read like real people.

The cracky fluff button was engaged once the fake marriage to get a visa to stay in the USA came up. But reading how Crawford is, it worked. The two get married and thankfully the author showed the real side of marrying an immigrant...it's not as easy as they originally thought. The couple stays in Canada for two weeks due to Crawford's job. And we even get to experience his ex-husband, a good antagonist that didn't overtake the plot with obscene dramatics.

The bread and butter of the story is the undeniable, easy connection Crawford and Mateus have. The attraction is there and it's a slow burn. Crawford being a knight in shining armor tries to be noble and a gentleman. His heart is iced in the middle... good thing Mateus knows to make him melt.

There is only one sexy moment throughout the entire story. But the sexual tension was written strongly and was well paced. I lived for each kiss. Were there times that I wanted to knock Crawford in the back of the head? Yep... he's a stubborn one. And has bad Tim Hortons judgement. (I'm still trying not to hold it against him) Other than that, he's a dream guy, as is Mateus.

The story is split between Vancouver and Washington. And even when apart, they're still connected. And when the sexual tension finally comes to a melting point. Let's just say it was a swoon worthy moment.

And the last 5% of the story?

So damn romantic, I want to get drunk off the cracky fluff. *swoons* *gulps*

Recommended for fans of the Dreamspun Desires line, this is definitely not one to skip. Crawford and Mateus as a couple left a lasting impression from the Dreamspun Desires leading men I've read so far.

Not my first time reading this author, but I enjoy the way she writes her characters a lot. And if you're a fan of any of the tropes I mentioned, get ready for quality cracky fluff.

What a sweet treat!

Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

See our audiobook review HERE!

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