by Lori Ryan
Legal Ease is available from Amazon.
Jack Sutton needs a wife and he needs one now. Jack loved his mother, but she really screwed him over when she set up her will. If Jack doesn’t have a wife by the end of the week, he’ll lose control of the largest chunk of voting stock in his company and will most likely lose his position as CEO as a result.
And Jack’s Aunt Mabry is waiting in the wings to make sure that the terms of the will are enforced. If he doesn’t find a wife, she’ll seize control of the stock so she can install her own son at the helm and she couldn’t care less that her son doesn’t want the job or that he probably won’t be any good at it.
Enter Kelly Bradley, a twenty eight year old college graduate with a spot at Yale Law School but no way to pay for it. Kelly and Jack’s eavesdropping secretary have discovered Jack’s secret need for a wife and Kelly comes up with a plan to fix both of their problems.
Just when Jack needs her, Kelly breezes into his office, introduces herself to his Aunt and cousin, and hands Jack an offer. She will marry him for a year so that he can retain the stock that will keep him in control of Sutton Development if he’ll pay for her to go to law school. Jack has no idea where his beautiful savior came from or who she is but he’s willing to take a chance to save it all.
The deal may have kept Jack in control at Sutton Development but his private life quickly spirals out of control. Just when Jack realizes that he wants more than a year with Kelly, his wealth puts her in great danger and he is left scrambling to save her life and their future together.
Legal Ease by Lori Ryan is the first book in the Capital Sutton series. Surprisingly, it is a "marriage of convenience story", which is uncommon in this day and age. Even more surprising, it is a contemporary (rather than a historical) novel about two people who marry for practical reasons but fall in love despite themselves. It is an easy, engrossing story to follow.
Kelly Bradley is a smart, competent woman who has been admitted to law school. She wants to acquire a legal degree in order to help people...the only trouble is finding a way to pay for her education. Enter Jack Sutton, a hard-driving corporate executive bound by the terms of his mother's will--to marry by his thirty-fifth birthday--or lose control of the company his father built.
Through the clever machinations of Jennie--Kelly's friend and Jack's secretary--Kelly and Jack meet and realize a means of solving their respective problems. They agree to marry for the period of one year. Jack keeps his company. In exchange, he pays for Kelly's law school. They move into Jack's mansion together, and discover an intense mutual attraction to one another. Once their attraction to one another becomes clear, their relationship develops with relatively little difficulty.
Both Kelly and Jack are such honest, decent people. Both are good-looking, intelligent, and likeable. Even though Jack is allegedly a disreputable womanizer, he fails to act like one. For this reader, it was a stretch to believe that Kelly and Jack both remained single and solidly unattached. In real life, both hero and heroine would have been snatched up long ago.
As a whole, the narrative relies heavily on external conflict to drive the plot. Throughout the story, Jack's detestable elderly aunt is gunning for him, determined to oust him from his position and expose his marriage as a sham. He treats her with a remarkable amount of patience and tolerance, once again proving he is a truly sweet person.
Near the end of the story, the plot diverges from the obvious path, taking a rather strange turn into kidnapping and human trafficking. Without giving away spoilers, I must state that it caught me entirely by surprise and wasn't at all what I expected. Love scenes are spicy, lacking specific details, largely focused on the emotional interaction between the hero and heroine. Legal Ease is definitely a quick, pleasurable read and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a contemporary romance with an old-fashioned twist.
Legal Ease is available from Amazon.