Wife For A Week, by Kelly Hunter

>> Friday, March 11, 2011

TITLE: Wife For A Week
AUTHOR: Kelly Hunter

COPYRIGHT: 2006
PAGES: 192
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Presents

SETTING: Contemporary London and Hong Kong
TYPE: Category romance
SERIES: None (that I know of!)

REASON FOR READING: Kelly Hunter is author of the month (which means we have to read one of her books, any one) on my online romance chat group.

Nicholas Cooper must produce a wife for his business deal, and Hallie Bennett is beautiful and intelligent enough to pull it off. She needs the money, and Nicholas has determined some strict rules for their week together.

Rule No. 1: Displays of affection in public only

Keeping their hands on each other in public turns out to be surprisingly easy. It's keeping them off in private that's the problem. Hallie is falling for Nicholas, but will Nicholas make his contract wife his real-life bride?
Wife For A Week was a fun and breezy read, if a little insubstantial.

For once, the title is quite accurate. Nicholas Cooper is negotiating a deal to distribute his company's new video game in Asia, and the last time he visited his potential partner in Hong Kong, his daughter made a pass at him. Not wanting to crush the girl too badly (she seemed very sweet), he panicked and invented a wife. Now he's going to Hong Kong again, and he needs to produce said wife.

Hallie is working at a small shoe shop in London. When an eccentric old lady decides, after a bit of banter, that she'd be perfect for the charader her son Nick needs to pull, Hallie is doubtful. But 10 thousand pounds would help her finish her education (and Nick is very attractive), so she finds herself accepting.

Hallie was fun. She's independent and intelligent, and refuses to act at all impressed with Nicholas. Nicholas does show some signs of being potentially a bit overbearing, but he's got a sense of humour, enough to recognise when he's being unreasonable and he's fair enough to appreciate it when Hallie is right. And in the end, he proves he's quite a bit more enlightened that the average Presents hero when he needs to step back and trust Hallie to do something that's quite dangerous. He doesn't find it easy, but he does it, and full points for him.

That said, although I liked it a LOT more than I did the other book I read by this author (the unfortunately titled Exposed: Misbehaving With the Magnate), they did have in common a rather uncomfortable juxtaposition of modern and old-fashioned. In the other book, it was characters who, to all outward appearances, lived in the here and now but who were also concerned with things like mistresses and the heroine having grown up as the housekeeper's daughter. Here it's things like Nick being a quite modern kind of businessman (his company designs videogames and he has the stereotypical google-era entrepreneur's office, complete with basketball hoop and widescreen TV), who for some reason seems to move in this weird scene where corporate wives are elegant and sweet and dress in demure and anonymous designer dresses. There's also the pointless virginity thing. This felt more like garden-variety Presents world. Strangely, the "I need a pretend wife" set-up I was ok with, as Hunter did justify that well.

What else? I really liked the Hong Kong setting. The London of the first few pages didn't feel like London at all, but Hong Kong was vivid and different. I've no idea if it would feel realistic to someone who actually knows the place, but I liked it. I also liked the tiny suspense-ish plot. That was truly hilarious, and it relates to my point above of Nick having to step back and let Hallie do her thing, so that was all good.

MY GRADE: A B-.

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