Desert Isle Keeper
Temporary is the first collaboration between authors Sarina Bowen and Sarah Mayberry and I enjoyed every bit of it. The co-authors find a perfect balance of plot, romance and sex, and I read it from start to finish in one afternoon. I liked the characters, their backstories, the plot twist that brings them into each other’s lives, and the denouement is well paced and plotted. Temporary delivers all the feels I hope for when I pick up a contemporary novel – the storyline is believable, the angst is real but not overdone, and the relationship between the principals is variously sweet, naughty, funny and smoking hot – it satisfies in all the best ways. Fingers crossed this is only the first of many collaborations from this author pair.
Grace Kerrington is having a bad morning. Running late for her temporary job at Walker Holdings, she arrives at the office to discover a note asking her to join in on a conference call that started seven minutes earlier. Racing into the room she discovers her supervisor in the midst of a video conference call with Ms. Victoria Walker, CEO of the company. Grace had hoped to transition her temporary position into a full time one – but showing up late for work and for a call with the CEO can’t bode well. Grace panics momentarily – she can’t lose this job. Her rent is two months overdue and she and her sister are barely scraping by as it is.
When her boss covers for her after her late arrival and then Ms. Walker bluntly reveals her brother has died and that she’s his executor and sole heir, Grace is perplexed. Then Ms. Walker explains that she needs someone local to help her wind up the estate and deal with her late brother’s personal effects. Grace is tasked with creating an extensive inventory of everything in his apartment, along with appraisals for anything of value, and doing the same at the warehouse he used to store bottles for his small business importing Australian wines. Grace is ecstatic; the job will keep her busy for weeks and hopefully earn her a permanent job with the company.
On the phone with her best friend Jasmine the following morning, she can barely contain her excitement as she arrives at the address given to her. It’s gorgeous – and while she’s describing it enthusiastically and comparing her impressions to how she feels after having an orgasm, she notices a strange man in the room. A beautiful man. Watching her. Not taking her eyes off him, she abruptly ends the call.
“Don’t let me interrupt your next orgasm,” he said, the last word drawn out and lazy. And holy fuck – that accent. Australian, if my startled brain wasn’t too confused to hear him properly.
Callan Walker is a playboy. Rich, handsome, charming and single, he lives life to the fullest – and keeps well away from the Walker family and business back in Australia. He was having a great night – partying on a yacht in Bali – until an acquaintance expressed his condolences about Callan’s uncle. Suddenly alert, Callan immediately calls his sister Claire. In short order, she confirms that his uncle died nearly a week ago. When he asks about a funeral she informs him that since his mother is the executor of Jack’s will, she opted to have him cremated in lieu of a funeral. Devastated, Callan places another call and makes plans to travel to New York.
When Grace walks into the apartment, Callan isn’t surprised his mother has already installed one of her minions to catalog and sell off his uncle’s belongings – but he has no intention of letting it happen. He’s certain his uncle left another will naming him executor and he intends to find it before his mother can dissolve the estate. In the meantime, he’ll thwart his mother’s plans by staying in the apartment and keeping a close watch over her employee.
Oh reader – these two! It’s clear Callan and Grace are destined for each other, but Ms. Bowen and Ms. Mayberry still manage to spin a fresh twist on this familiar story. Callan is a hottie who relies on his wealth, gorgeous good looks, and sexy Australian accent to score any women he wants. And shortly after he meets her, he wants Grace, though he’s wary of her connection to his mother – whom he hates (for good reason). Behind his pretty playboy façade, Callan is a good guy – he’s kind and good, if a bit lost. His player persona is largely a protective reaction to his mother’s ugly machinations and his Uncle Jack was the only one who knew him well,
…the only decent, uncompromised person in my life. The only family member I could ever be myself with, without worrying he’d use the knowledge against me. The only one I’d trusted, no caveats or exceptions.
Once Callan and Grace start spending afternoons working and getting to know each other, both begin to relax their guard… and Callan rediscovers a sense of purpose. Grace is nothing like the women he usually associates with – although she’s got baggage of her own. Raised by a drug addicted mother, she managed to earn a scholarship to design school and succeed despite her difficult childhood. But her life took a drastic turn when she had to take in her younger sister after their mother’s escalating drug use rendered her incapable. Grace’s life revolves around work, bills and her sister. She doesn’t have time for pretty playboys… but after spending time with Callan, she falls for him anyway.
What starts out as a teasing, flirty adversarial relationship soon gives way to a passionate (scorching!) love affair – but all the while, Grace attempts to hold back her affection for Callan. His relationship with Victoria threatens Grace’s position (and future) at Walker Holdings, and despite her affair with Callan, her familial responsibilities and precarious financial position trump any possible relationship between them. Callan, charming and seemingly oblivious to Grace’s desperate circumstances and fears for her future, charms away her every objection as he attempts to outmaneuver his mother – until an unexpected visitor forces him to reconsider.
Temporary is told in dual PoVs, and it’s nearly impossible to guess which author penned each voice. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Ms. Mayberry, an Australian, wrote Callan Walker. He’s a delightfully naughty character and though I suspect some readers will roll their eyes at him (he’s rich, funny, beautiful and good in bed), I fell for him and that delicious accent. Hard. Grace is a smart, independent and resilient woman who confidently embraces her femininity and sexuality – and she makes Callan work hard for her affections. I liked her a lot, too. The secondary characters are similarly well done – Callan’s mother is awful and evil; his Uncle Jack seemed like someone we would wish to have in our corner; and their sisters – Claire and Olivia – well, I’m hopeful we’ll get their stories someday.
Temporary is contemporary comfort food. It’s romantic and sexy with an entertaining storyline that keeps a reader invested until the very end. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Ms. Bowen and Ms. Mayberry work together again. Soon.