Tempting Mr. Wright
If you like a story where the hero and heroine bicker in the spirit of a lighthearted romance, you may like this one. It tries to be light and charming, but the bickering doesn’t quite make it to the level of cute banter, and the hero and heroine veer a little too close to being annoying.
Tess Morrow and Jack Wright haven’t liked each other since her mother married his father. They bicker and insult each other constantly and have stopped coming home for holidays. They are forced to come together, however, when their parents appear to be missing. Add a hurricane about to hit the Florida town of Paradise Bay, and they get stuck with each other for a few days.
Tess is an annoying heroine. She’s an uptight IRS auditor whom Jack refers to as Victorian and “Shorty.” She continually jumps to conclusions about Jack, all of which are wrong and derogatory. One redeeming characteristic is that she’s genuinely worried about her parents. As for Jack, he’s like a teasing older brother. He’s annoying to Tess, but otherwise he’s charming and funny. Readers will have an easier time of it than Tess does in figuring out his occupation – he likes to torment Tess by hiding it from her.
Jack and Tess had potential. When they weren’t insulting each other, they were cute together. They both had vulnerable spots underneath their exterior. But to show it, they had to stop fighting. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen often enough. Their insults weren’t even particularly good ones: beast, cretin, Shorty, and Victorian among the top ones. And who wants to guess the correct cliché for their antipathy toward each other – it’s not hard to determine and is rather a Civil-Brown trademark?
The dialogue moves at breakneck speed when there are more than two people in the scene, especially when dealing with the elderly neighbors. The reason for the parents’ disappearance turns out to be very contrived, as does the ending, which was more than a little rushed. With what seemed like ten pages until the end, Jack and Tess were nowhere near what seemed like a lifetime love. Then suddenly they were engaged and married.
This sounds pretty condemning, but there were enough small bright spots that I managed to get through this. And when the readers finally meet Tess’s mom Brigitte, anyone who has seen the movie If a Man Answers will recognize certain small aspects of her personality. She calls Tess chou-chou, she’s a schemer, and her husband’s name is Mr. Wright (in the movie a fictional boyfriend was named Mr. Wright). It really made me want to find my copy of the thoroughly delightful Sandra Dee/Bobby Darin movie.
If you like farcical comedy, you might give this one a try. As for this reviewer, it was more flat than farce.