One Day To Find A Husband by Shirley Jump. Is this book perfect? No. Did I have quibbles? Yes. Did I still inhale it in two hours? ::burp:: Excuse me, yes.
Finn McKenna owns his own architectural firm, and is a bit of a golden boy. Business was booming, he's been profiled in magazines, and buying out two competitors has earned him the nickname of "The Hawk." However turns out Finn isn't immune to failure. His last romantic relationship went down in flames after he discovered the woman he was going to propose to was only feigning interest in him in order to woo away clients. It was a betrayal that stung, and cast a shadow. Now needing an infusion to his professional reputation, he gets the brilliant idea to propose a temporary partnership with Ellie Winston. Ellie is an architect who has built her career designing residential homes. But when her father becomes ill, she agrees to take over his business - which specializes in corporate structures. They've just landed a job to build a hospital, and Dad's top architect has decided to walk. Finn proposes that he come in, help her out on this one job, win-win for both them.
Except Ellie doesn't see it that way, and turns him down. However no sooner does she say no than she hits a snag in her personal life. She met a woman in China, during her business travels, and they became friends. When her friend succumbed to cancer, she begged Ellie to adopt her little girl. Which Ellie is working to do - until she finds out that the Chinese government wants her to be married. Crap. What to do, what to do? Needing to get married in a hurry, loathe to leave Jiao in that orphanage any longer, she agrees to Finn's proposal - on the condition that they get married, in name only, of course.
Naturally what follows is Finn and Ellie tap-dancing around each other, learning they have quite a bit in common, and trying to smother an attraction they figure cannot go anywhere. Ellie begins to wonder if Finn agreed to her outrageous proposition only to get his hands on her company, and Finn finds himself attracted to Ellie but still a little gun-shy because of the whole traitorous ex thing. Neither of them has strong parental examples when it comes to committed, fulfilling relationships and both of them aren't really sure what love is, let alone what they're feeling for each other. Maybe it's just base lust? Or a mutual attraction because they share similar careers and interests?
Marriage of convenience because of a legal issue, like an adoption, is a non-starter for a lot of readers I know. It works fairly well for me, if it's a plausible enough reason - and I know enough about foreign adoption (specifically from China) to know that regulations have been tightened up over the last few years. So I could roll with this bit of conflict. Finn and Ellie are both likable people, charming and agreeable. They have just the right amount of baggage to put a few stumbling blocks in their emotional paths, but not so much that they tediously talk in circles. I'm not entirely sure how they get from liking each other, to falling in love though - and the very short time table doesn't really help matters. Literally they meet and the next thing the reader knows - they're married.
Still, this was a likable, agreeable story. It's light, it's fun, it's the kind of story that would make an ideal Lifetime movie. A quintessential chocolate chip cookie read, it's charming and bubbly - and while it didn't change my life, I'm really pleased that Finn has two sequel-baitin' brothers.
Final Grade = B