Temporary Wife

The Second Promise by Joan Kilby
(Harl. Super #965, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-70965-X
The Second Promise is only the second book by Joan Kilby I've read. The first was set in Canada, while this one has a more international feel, set in Australia. Because of the location, words, phrases and customs abound which are unfamiliar. However, it must be obligatory in Australia to have ‘shrimp on the barbie.' Wonder if it's as common as our American hot dog?

Thirty-six-year-old Will Beaumont is ready to settle down and have children. What he needs first is a girlfriend. Enter Maeve Arden, who catches his interest. What soon becomes apparent is that Maeve has no interest in remarrying and even less interest in motherhood. The only reason she's meeting him at all is that she's interested in redoing his gardens and grounds.

Yes, Maeve is attracted to Will, but it turns out he has an even bigger strike against him than wanting marriage and fatherhood. His company, Aussie Electronics, is shutting its production facilities and relocating to another country where production costs will be lower, a move that will put hundreds of people out of work, Maeve's dad included.

Will is able to convince Maeve to work on his gardens, a job at which she excels. He's hoping that proximity will slowly wear down her resistance. He's also hoping that he can convince her that he's not really a bad guy at all.

Just as things look hopeful, Will's best friend Ida decides that her biological clock is ticking rapidly. Years before, Ida was scarred in an accident, and Will has always felt guilty and responsible for it. He volunteers to marry Ida, knowing that she's pregnant with another man's child, a man who loves Ida, but doesn't want to get married or become a father.

Is this a love triangle? Square? Or just a mess? Whatever it is, it's totally predictable. As a romance reader, we know how things are going to turn out. And when a book is approximately three hundred pages, with the resolution occurring with only ten or so pages to go, that's a lotta print space being given over to the problems. In fact, it's so much that frustration is the main emotion that I felt as I read the story.

There are scenes which seem extraneous to the plot, scenes which didn't seem to add to the story as a whole. Will enjoys surfing, so we're treated to lots of beach scenes. Maeve, who's a botanist extraordinare, ends up sharing lots of Australian plant information. That's all well and good, but I didn't feel that it added to the relationship one iota.

Maeve and Will are characters whom I found boring, for the most part. She's attracted to Will and even after she knows that he's engaged, she's still interested, yet repeatedly tells herself to leave him alone. Will's no better; he's supposed to be committed to Ida, yet comes on to Maeve. This whole scenario seemed less of a tangled web and more sordid and tawdry than I'm comfortable with.

The Second Promise was, for me, bland and uninteresting. I'm guessing that there are readers who will be touched by Maeve and Will's struggle to find happiness. I'm guessing that there are readers who will enjoy the Australian setting. There's no guesswork for me personally; I know I didn't enjoy The Second Promise.

--Linda Mowery

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