Loryn Kramer Staley’s novel, Briefly Borrowed, pivots around Molly Lambert, a manipulative woman who will stop at nothing to rise above her impoverished past. As one character puts it: “She’s like mountain laurel — easy on the eyes but deadly.”
The story gets off to a running start as Molly’s husband Clay pays Molly and her lover, Richard—formerly Clay’s friend—a surprise visit, catching them in the act. Clay threatens to shoot Richard, then supposedly sets him up as the perpetrator of a local crime.
Clay’s unexpected visit doesn’t change Molly’s ways, and the pace gallops on as Clay’s medical school classmate, Preston Fayne, invites Clay to join his medical practice. Little does Clay know that Preston and Molly are old friends, now rekindling their old dalliance. Preston’s wife, Peggy, is also in the dark, valuing Molly’s friendship, even as she suspects her husband’s philandering ways.
But despite Preston’s professed love of Peggy and his father’s warning that Molly is “like loose change—always looking for a pocket,” Preston can’t resist Molly’s charms. As the affair heats up, the morally bankrupt, gold-digging Molly resorts to criminal acts, frightening Peggy and making it clear to Preston that she will stop at little until he leaves his wife and marries her.
This is a raucous, rapid-fire tale rich with metaphor and witty banter. The writing is vivid (finding one character “exercising his fingers with a game of Here is the church, here is the steeple” for example), and the story is filled with tart humor and lively characters.
Most readers won’t care that the characters are stereotypical and one-dimensional, or that the plotline leans increasingly toward the melodramatic and villainous. At times, characters or references to the past are unclear, but this may be because this is the fourth in a series.
In all, this is a humorous romp that will satisfy those who like fast action, characters that never bore, and wicked fun.
Also available as an ebook.