Wednesday, February 19, 2020

#TBRChallenge 2019: A Temporary Arrangement
The Book: A Temporary Arrangement by Roxanne Rustand

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin SuperRomance #1362, 2006, book 3 in trilogy, out of print, not available digitally (at time of this review posting).

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: The used bookstore price stamp was still on the front cover.  My guess is I read a plot description somewhere (most likely RT Book Reviews) and it made me curious enough to pick up a copy.  It's the only book by this author I had in my print TBR and 2006 was before I converted my Harlequin spending habit to digital.

The Review: I had a brain fart this month and picked my read based on the incorrect assigned "optional" theme.  I still managed to make the Friends theme work with this book, but unfortunately that didn't elevate the story.  This one is a mess y'all.

Abby Cahill is a nursing instructor who is looking to brush up her resume with some more recent clinical experience prior to moving to California. She accepts a job offer at Blackberry Hill Memorial, a small hospital in picturesque small town summer tourist area Wisconsin.  The director of nursing is retiring and the replacement can't come on board until September.  Abby has agreed to serve as an interim director for the summer.

Unfortunately the apartment complex she was slated to move into has had a fire and now she has no place to live.  Tourist season is underway and housing options are limited to non-existent.  She rents a place from a cantankerous old coot with super-sonic hearing and she's quickly evicted thanks to her BFF's kids (more on that in a bit).  The answer to her prayers?  Ethan Matthews, a reclusive wildlife biologist who shows up in the ER needing emergency surgery.  Surgery that requires him to be evac'ed to The Big City hospital. That leaves his son without someone to watch him (Ethan's ex-wife is out of town on business), Abby steps in to watch the kid overnight, and eventually the arrangement is extended.

Lord above, where to start?  Abby rolls into town and takes the apartment from the cantankerous old coot because she's desperate. OK, fine. But she knows UP FRONT what sort of guy he is.  What does she do?  Volunteer to babysit her BFF's three kids (2 boys, 1 girl - all under the age of 12) who are described as "a handful."  Was her BFF in a bind?  Was there a dire emergency?  No.  BFF is pregnant and tired and Abby wants to help her out.  Look, nothing wrong with this. Admirable even.  BUT ABBY KNOWS WHAT SORT OF MAN HER LANDLORD IS!  Does she send the BFF off to a hotel out of town  to get away for a few days and watch the kids at her house?  No.  The boisterous brats spend the night at Abby's place and viola! Evicted. Plot contrivance right on cue...

I won't even get into the fact that her apartment burning down before she moves in and not a whiff of a mention of renter's insurance is discussed.  Who knows? Maybe she hadn't signed the lease yet?  Maybe she hadn't contacted the insurance company yet?  Loss of Use is something you think about when you've had to evac because of a wildfire - just sayin'.

When Ethan shows up in the ER they immediately pump him full of painkillers and he's adament about the hospital social worker not placing his kid in the system, even if it's temporary.  There's also NO DISCUSSION about locating another relative.  I mean, it's possible it's just Ethan, his ex-wife and the kid - but the "let's call a family member" suggestion isn't even mentioned.  Instead it's let this total stranger head of nursing watch my kid - here's the keys to my house.  All this after Ethan makes a snap judgement about Abby's parental skills (he thinks the BFFs "handful" kids are Abby's kids) which then leads to nonsense about "city girls" and "career girls" the rest of the frickin' story.  Shoot me now.

Besides the fact that Abby and Ethan aren't really on page together much (outside of the ER visit) until after page 70 (yes, a longer category romance but still - less than 300 pages y'all!) they don't spend an exorbitant amount of time together.  Abby's working.  Ethan is working and brooding.  There's his kid.  There's a pile of secondary characters.  Oh, and someone is lurking around Ethan's remote ranch sabotaging stuff and someone is out to discredit Abby at work.  So you've got two half-baked suspense threads wedged in with all the stuff that already isn't working.  When the couple decides they might have feelings for each other, I have to, exactly?!? There's really no build up of the relationship to lead up to that point.

To be honest I should have DNF'ed this.  I pretty much knew 50 pages in that it wasn't going to work for me - but I'm in a dismal slump at the moment and wasn't left with enough time to complete the challenge.  Yeah, this could have been a DNF review, but soldier on and all that.  Done. Moving on. Hoping for better things on the horizon.

Final Grade = D-


Dorine said...

oh boy - that does sound like a mess. I was in the same boat this month. One of those shoulda, coulda, woulda moments. Oh well. We've both got one off our piles! And so much to look forward to next month. :)

azteclady said...

"Hot mess" seems kind, tbh.

Jill said...

Boo. I tried two different books on my TBR pile that fit the "friends" theme and neither worked. So instead I did "Get a Life, Chloe Brown" by Talia Hibbert. I had actually checked this out of the library last year, had to return it before I finished it, bought it on a whim when it was on sale and then promptly forgot about it. So yeah for the TBR challenge.
Chloe is Black British woman who has fibromyalgia (sp?) and a loving, if a bit smothering family. A near death experience makes her decide she has to live life to the fullest and she moves out of the family home and crosses paths with Redmond, her new buildiing super. He's also a painter with some serious emotional baggage in his past. I mean, they try being just friends for a little bit, so it almost fits the theme.
I found it pretty charming and sweet and I'm glad I tried it b/c I've read two Talia Hibberts before and had to DNF in spite of all the praise.So I found one that worked for me and I definitely want to read the next one in the series. I'd probably give it an A-.

Becca said...

Ugh, that's a real shame! It sucks when the only reason your romance plot hangs together is because everyone involved decided to act like a total idiot but I've admittedly never seen a book so badly plotted that hospitals were handing out kids like party favours (◔_◔)

Sorry to hear about your dismal slump! I hope it gets better soon

Wendy said...

Dorine: It's been in the TBR for a LONG time. Looking on the bright side - at least it's no longer languishing?

AL: I haven't read a Super in a while and ugh - this was not the one to pick.

Jill: I'm all about DNF'ing Challenge books but my reading has been so dismal lately that I didn't leave myself enough time to pick something different. Will I ever learn? Glad to hear you finally landed on a book you enjoyed!

Becca: LOL - "handing out kids like party favours" - that's EXACTLY what it reads like. The whole thing is just so painfully contrived.