Her Own Prince Charming

The Million Dollar Marriage

No Crystal Stair

Almost a Wife by Eva Rutland
(Harl. Romance #3621, $3.50, G) ISBN 0-373-03621-3
Tray Kingsley is a go-to guy. He was selected by Lawson Enterprises to finalize the merger with Computer Technology, Inc. (CTI) and to become CEO of the new San Francisco based subsidiary. When a childhood friend died, she named Tray guardian of her two small children. Although he had only seen them once, she was confident that he would find them a loving family “like the kind of home you had” and protect them from the foster care system in which she had grown up.

”Tray Kingsley was noted for his business sense. With keen perception, he took instant command of any situation, knowing instinctively who should do what. As easy as breathing . . .”

So, when he was trapped in an elevator with an hysterical, claustrophobic woman, he took charge of the situation. He needed to calm her down long enough to call for help on the emergency phone. Tray did what any go-to guy would, he kissed the woman soundly and while she was catching her breath, he called for help. Another crisis averted by Tray Kingsley.

Getting stuck in an elevator was probably the best thing to happen to Lisa Reynolds on her way to work. On her way to work on her last day at CTI. At 26, Lisa had been caught in the company’s “downsizing shenanigans.” She had lost her job as director of research and development. Thank goodness, she wouldn’t have to face that man she had been trapped in the elevator with. How embarrassing.

As the months sped on, Lisa’s job prospects and bank balance began to dwindle. Her salary at CTI enabled her to afford her lifestyle. “She had splurged on everything - apartment, furnishings, clothes, you name it” The job also helped her supplement the cost of her grandparents’ move to a retirement complex in Sacramento. Her grandparents had raised Lisa since she was five, after her parents were killed in an automobile accident. They spared no expense to indulge her and had mortgaged their house to send her to Stanford. Now Lisa’s “job and big money were gone.”

When Lisa had to let Jolene, her cleaning lady go because she can no longer afford to pay her, the other woman suggests that Lisa consider it as a way to make money. At first Lisa adventures in housekeeping leave something to be desired. “There was certainly more labor than money in this occupation.” Then, as she hits her stride, referrals increase. A neighbor refers her to a house at 168 Pine Grove, Tray Kingsley=s house.

Of course, he doesn’t recognize her at first because she’s changed jobs and into a low-maintenance hairstyle. He never really did see her face in the elevator! And since they never exchanged names, she is unaware that he was the New York “big shot” responsible for her losing her job.

While Tray Kingsley, the businessman has it all together, Tray Kingsley, bachelor-guardian does not. When Lisa discovers what he’s paying for the combined services of Nanny, Inc., Carter’s Catering and Reynold’s Cleaning, she suggests a little downsizing of her own. She makes Tray an offer he can’t refuse and gets a temporary position as the family’s live-in housekeeper. This will buy Lisa time to continue her job search, give up her apartment and have a place for her belongings. It’s a win-win situation.

Almost a Wife is a very straightforward story about elder care, foster care system, families, corporate downsizing and, of course, love. There are a few mini-misunderstandings in the novel. My favorite Eva Rutland stories are those that involve children. Almost a Wife is a welcome addition to that list. The elements come together in this story that showcases the author’s sense of humor.

It’s worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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