While I am a great fan of Sue Civil-Brown’s alter ego’s books, I have
found her contemporary comic romances a mixed bag - which just goes to
show how difficult it is to write humor and how idiosyncratic our
comedic tastes are. I can say that this book hits the mark for me. I
enjoyed it very much. Tempting Mr. Wright is a clever and
I admit to some initial concern. How could a humorous book center on
the possibility that the hero and heroine’s parents are missing and
might be in danger? But have no fear. There is more to the
disappearance of Steve and Brigitte Wright than meets the eye.
Tess Morrow, an auditor for the IRS in Chicago, receives a most
disturbing message from her mother Brigitte while she is away on
business. Brigitte informs her that she and her husband are “trying to
get a flight home.” Home from where? Tess didn’t know they were going
anywhere. When she can’t raise Brigitte and Steve on the phone, she
packs up and heads for Paradise, Florida.
Upon arriving, she discovers that her step-brother, Jack Wright, has
also been notified that “the parental units” are missing. Tess almost
turns around and leaves. For fifteen years, ever since Brigitte married
Steve, Tess and Jack had been sniping at each other. Now, at thirty and
thirty-six, the two had fallen into a habit of quarreling continually.
Indeed, so great is the tension between the two that Tess had not come
home for holidays for years.
Now the two have to work together to try to discover what has happened
to Steve and Brigitte. And pretty soon, it becomes clear that there is
something fishy about the whole business. Indeed, it appears that half
the population of Paradise is in on the plot to force Tess and Jack to
get over their juvenile squabbles.
Civil-Brown takes full advantage of some home truths about human
behavior. First, we do fall into patterns of behavior, patterns that
may no longer make sense but which are very hard to get past. Second,
sometimes hostility masks other feelings, feelings that seem
inappropriate or dangerous. Such is the case with Tess and Jack. The
two, unrelated by blood and having spent little time together, can use
their ongoing conflict to avoid admitting how they really feel about
The sniping is quite funny most of the time, although it can also be
wounding as Tess keeps chiding Jack for his seemingly feckless
lifestyle. She is a little slow in figuring out what he really does.
Likewise humorous are the attempts of the denizens of Paradise to pull
the wool over Tess’ and Jack’s eyes. At first, I feared that the author
was making fun of older people. Then, I realized that they were in on
the plot and were brilliantly conning the two.
Just to add interest and excitement, Tess and Jack find themselves
facing a late season hurricane with an ill-assorted group of house
guests. But what really makes the story is the gradual unwinding of the
convoluted plot developed by the irrepressible Brigitte to bring the
hostilities to their happy ending.
Civil-Brown has found the perfect balance of humor and poignancy, the
latter coming to the fore as both Tess and Jack come to terms with the
past hurts that have followed them into adulthood. Thus, they can help
each other heal.
Tempting Mr. Wright blends humor with romance. It has attractive
characters, lots of fun exchanges, and a delightful if improbable plot.
This Civil-Brown book is a winner.