Book of the Week: Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

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Début author Jayci Lee has burst on the romance scene with six books scheduled between now and the summer of 2022. Temporary Wife Temptation is her first book and the first in her Heirs of Hansol series featuring the Song family.

Garrett Song is the VP of Business and Development at Hansol Incorporated, one of the top fashion retailers in the country. The company was started by his grandparents, and he has worked his way up the chain to where he is now poised to take over the role of CEO if he can land a partnership with another fashion conglomerate. His grandparents’ work ethic has passed down to him, and he is known in the industry for his workaholism and business acumen…and also for his stunning good looks and playboy image. Under all of the surface charm runs a well-honed streak of loyalty to his Korean American roots. However, despite his reverence for the Song family matriarch, his grandmother, he has no intention of bowing down to her edict to marry sight-unseen a member of South Korea’s semi-royalty families.

Half-Korean American Natalie Sobol is the youngest HR Director at Hansol Incorporated. She is a dedicated workaholic herself and very successful at her job. However recently, her life has been completely shaken up by the death of her beloved sister and brother-in-law in a car accident. Her sister’s dying wish was that Natalie bring up her daughter as her own. Unfortunately for Natalie, the baby’s grandparents are blocking Natalie’s case for adoption.

At Garrett’s level, a man with a family is seen as a reliable man with whom to do business, but Garrett does not want to be under his grandmother’s dominion. Social workers see more stability in adoption of babies by wealthy families than by single parents. So what could be a better solution than for Garrett and Natalie to contract a temporary marriage of convenience to be dissolved once he has his position as CEO and she has custody? That they have an insane attraction for each other is only a hiccup they can surely manage being the mature adults they are, aren’t they?

Temporary Wife Temptation is one of few modern stories I have read where a marriage-of-convenience plot works successfully. They both want something out of the bargain, and they both are invested in helping the other person achieve their goals. There is no immature bickering over who is getting the better deal in the bargain. They are in it together and they solve their problems together.

The antagonist in their otherwise reasonably amicable relationship is their unbearable attraction to each other, which they are struggling against, because it is easier to annul a marriage on grounds of lack of consummation, than getting a divorce. The heart of the story is this struggle, how it impacts the understanding and affection that is developing between them and how they manage it.

It is interesting to see how these controlled perfectionistic people evolve over the course of their story. As the personal aspect of their life starts becoming more important than work, perfectionism loosens its hold on their psyche. They start focusing on emotions and relationships (with each other, with the baby, with the grandmother), all of which inherently don’t fit in perfect boxes.

Garrett and his extended family have retained their roots, including their language, so it was wonderful to see how Natalie embraces the Korean side of her heritage through her marriage. As a child, she had always felt disappointed that her mother had adamantly denied her Korean heritage, and now finally, she has this opportunity to learn more and experience more about her culture, and she seizes it with both hands.

Temporary Wife Temptation is a solid début book, and I am looking forward to reading Lee’s July book next, which is a rom-com. The second Heirs of Hansol book comes out in September.

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