Saturday, August 19, 2023

Always a Temp by Jeannie Watt

 I'm currently in the process of going through some of my book collection and seeing what I want to keep and what I want to get rid of. ALWAYS A TEMP came in a box of romance novels that a friend sent me a while ago and since I haven't actually read that many Harlequins, I'm always excited to give a new author a go and see if they click with me.

ALWAYS A TEMP is a contemporary romance set in a small Nevada mining town. The heroine, Callie, is forced to return to Wesley when her foster mother dies, thus requiring her to settle the estate and tidy up the property. She hasn't been in town since skipping out ten years ago, ditching her boyfriend at the time, Nathan, without even a goodbye.

Now Nathan works at a newspaper and has a leg injury from when he tried to go full investigative reporter. He takes a savage pleasure in denying Callie a job, forcing her to join with a temp agency instead. But the pleasure is bittersweet because he's still attracted to her despite himself and deep down, he craves closure he didn't get.

This is how you do a second chance romance. Idiots in love who broke up when they were too young to know what they had, and come together as full grown adults who are now emotionally equipped to discuss their trauma. The small town vibes were done super well, and the fact that everybody was in everybody else's business further cemented my conviction that I would absolutely lose my mind if I was forced to live in a town like this. I also liked how the author made Callie the one who couldn't admit, and how she did a lot of "annoying" things that were a result of unresolved childhood trauma. Even though what she experienced wasn't that bad, from a content warning perspective, it fucked her up in a believable way, and a lot of what she did and felt stemmed from that. It felt realistic.

In terms of spice, this is pretty low. There's one not-so-detailed sex scene with a couple more alluded to. Most of the focus of the book is on the emotional connection between them, and in the background of this is a series of arson-related crimes, small town politics, and sexual harassment. All of these subjects were handled well, and the end result was a really good romance with a surprising amount of depth. I'm definitely going to have to look for more books by this author. This was such a satisfying read.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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