Temporary Wife by Joan Kilby
(Harl. Super #832, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-70832-7
***
Burton O'Rourke is reeling from the death of his beloved grandfather. On a personal level, Burton admired his grandfather and considered him a true hero. On a professional level. Burton was producing a television documentary featuring his grandfather, a farmer in Canada's Fraser Valley.

Now Burton is in a fix. What does he do with the farm he's just inherited? And how will he finish his documentary, especially now that the bigwigs are ready to kill the program? He's given one glimmer of light. If he produces a cooking show that gets top ratings, then he can continue work on his documentary. Now he's got to find a chef.

Chef Veronique Dutot, a young widow whose work permit is about to expire, needs to stay in Vancouver to help her mother-in-law, recently disabled in a fall. Originally from Tahiti, Veronique hates Canada and its cold, wet climate. If her mother-in-law weren't in the hospital and facing physical therapy, Veronique would already be home.

Dining at a local restaurant, Burton asks to compliment the chef on his meal. When Veronique spots him, she does an about face and leaves the restaurant. Burton looks too much like her dead husband, a husband she hated and feared. After Burton finally convinces her to work for him, another glitch appears. Her work papers have expired, and she's going to be deported.

In front of the government people, Burton announces that he and Veronique are going to be married.

Uh oh.

From here on we have several story lines developing. Burton slowly finds himself falling in love with this feisty French woman who mangles idiomatic English. Her cooking show is garnering high ratings, but she's causing him to pull his hair out. Her concept of on-air time is far different from his. She has trouble sticking to a schedule and likes to improvise the menus. That's great for a creative chef, but trouble for the crew.

Burton's newly inherited farm is also a source of contention. He knows that he ought to sell it, but hates to. His mother and Veronique want him to keep it, but he's not sure what he should do. A running gag at work is involves Ernie, a co-worker, who keeps calling him Burt. I can see how a grown man wouldn't want to be lumped in with Sesame Street's Burt and Ernie.

Spousal abuse is covered, but superficially, almost thrown in as a sympathy factor rather than an important, serious issue.

Temporary Wife is one of those totally predictable stories that isn't offensive or charming. It's a 'green card marriage-of-convenience' story that all too familiar. There are no ups or downs, no surprises, revelations or particularly memorable happenings. It would seem that this story is a text-book example of a three-heart review.

--Linda Mowery


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