Temporary Engagement
by Jessica Hart
(Harl. Rom. 3544, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-03544-6
***
Paige and Flora have been friends since college. When Paige had to take time off to care for her ailing mother and needed to find a replacement, she thought of Flora.

Someone was needed in the London office and Flora lives in the city and was free to travel. She also had the excellent foreign language and organizational skills her boss, Matthew Davenport, needed. Flora's main appeal was that she wasn't looking for full-time work so Paige won't have to fight for her job once her mother recovers.

It was a temporary arrangement.

Flora finds the arrangement to her liking. Working for a few months in Paige's high powered position will give Flora a chance to earn enough money to pay off her bills and fund her dream trip around the world. It is an ideal situation for her How difficult could it be?

It could be as difficult as one Matthew Davenport.

Matt is a demanding boss who quickly realizes that the gregarious Flora Mason is no shrinking violet. Unlike other women he knows personally and professionally, Flora gives as good as she gets.

Once they settle in to a peaceful co-existence, Flora and Matt are shocked to find that they are attracted to each other. She simply ignores it. He takes a different approach.

"Just to remind himself of how little he cared what Flora thought, Matt asked out a succession of girls over the next two weeks, careful to ensure that none of them expected any kind of enduring relationship.

Flora was soon fed up with making bookings for cozy lunches or candlelit dinners...they were all blonde, leggy and impossibly glamorous, and all had the most ridiculously contrived names..."

For all his bluster, Matt has a secret. The 38-year old tough- as-nails international businessman is afraid of his mother!

"I know I can deal with presidents and politicians and the toughest industrialists around the globe, so one woman in her sixties shouldn't present too much of a problem. I know I should be able to tell her firmly and clearly not to interfere in my life, but you don't know my mother. She's immune to any kind of logical reasoning, and argument just goes over her head."

When Matt's matchmaking mother comes to town, he adds a whole new dimension to "...and other duties as assigned" in Flora's job description. He asks Flora to pose as his fiancée to prevent his mother from fixing him up during her visit. In return, he'll pay her a hefty bonus and finance her trip.

Jessica Hart's Temporary Engagement is the third novel in Harlequin Romance's "Marrying the Boss" series. The pacing is excellent and the characters are well-developed. At best, Temporary Engagement is a predictable relationship-of- convenience story with several humorous moments.

It's a pleasant, undemanding read.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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