|Wade Garrett has baggage, more than what is in the trunk of his car. Pauline Mayfield has baggage and she has never lived anywhere but the Washington community of Crescent Cove. Despite that baggage, they find each other and love in this entertaining story.
Pauline has a major inferiority complex. She grew up the brainy daughter, unlike her sister Lily, who was the beautiful one. Lily was well-liked and into everything. Pauline even felt her parents preferred Lily, doting on her every whim. After they were killed in an accident, Lily was all Pauline had. She, being several years older, gave up college to return to their childhood home to finish raising Lily. But thirteen years ago, they became estranged. Pauline was engaged to be married and the night before the wedding she found her fiancé and Lily embracing. Lily left town, leaving a note that she was off to Hollywood. Pauline broke her engagement and stayed behind to suffer the “scandal.” She has established herself as a merchant, running a little needlepoint store on tourist row. She is a volunteer for the library and is under consideration for appointment to the City Council. She is certain that being appointed there will fully restore her credibility and demonstrate she has put the past behind her.
Enter Wade Garrett. Recently divorced, Wade has moved to Crescent Cove to escape his own scandal. His partner/best friend and his wife were having an affair, but what was worse, was the fact that they were skimming off millions of dollars from their investment clients. Wade was not found culpable for the crime, but is bruised and battered in his psyche and his ego.
He agrees to rent a room from Pauline in exchange for helping her repair her garage apartment, which was damaged in a recent storm. Dolly, Pauline’s other tenant, plays matchmaker, but she doesn’t have much work to do. Pauline and Wade are immediately attracted; however they bluff their way through denials for a while. The conflict in the tale is Pauline’s concern that the other council members will not like her sharing her Victorian house with a male tenant and the pair’s wariness in starting up a new relationship again.
Toth writes a good story. It moves along and the dialogue is engaging. Despite being rather predictable, the story keeps the reader interested. The reader does have to believe that Pauline was so deeply affected by her fiancé’s rejection and the town’s gossip that it really has given her life direction for thirteen years. If you can buy that, then the rest flows easily. Wade is much more believable because his scandal just happened and he immediately got out of Dodge to start over. They do make a cute couple though and are fun to watch. Their romance has some sweet moments and some hot ones.
Secondary characters like Lily’s old boyfriend and pal of Pauline, Steve, make several appearances. When Lily returns towards the end, a sequel is set up nicely. Generally the tale is carried on the backs of Wade and Lily. If you can move with them as they sift through their baggage, their romance is nicely done. The Tenant Who Came to Stay is not an unwelcome guest.
-- Shirley Lyons