I went on a Jennifer Crusie binge a few weekends ago. I wanted it to be a Gilmore Girls binge, but instead, my kid wanted to have a Friends binge, and since I already know that Ross is going to pick Rachel over the bald girl who is married to Ben Stiller in real life, I needed something I could read even though the tv was on. Hence, Jennifer Cruise. Plus, she was a free download from the library. And it was cold out. So I binged. And didn't get dressed. It was actually kind of nice.
Anyway, back to Jen. I sped-read through four of her early novels, and the thing about reading authors like that is you realize (duh) that they have a formula. It's not a great formula, but it must work because I kept going. So here's the run down, in no particular order, other than that's how I pulled them from my reader.
In Trust Me On This, we meet Dennie Banks, who is a reporter for a small town newspaper. Desperate to break a big story (the divorce of her mentor), she conspires to meet her at a conference. At the same time, Alec Prentice is looking to take down a con artist who likes to swindle old ladies out of their money with some land in Florida. There is - of course - a meet-cute, a case of mistaken identity (Alec thinks Dennie is working with the con man), and some sex that involves ice cream. Dennie eventually has to leave Alec to figure things out, but comes back six weeks later and they live happily ever after. (There's also a really cute B-story involving Alec's boss Harry and his aunt, and I think I liked it better than Dennie and Alec.) Three stars, mainly for the B-story.
Charlie All Night introduces us to Allie McGuffey, a radio producer who just lost her boyfriend and her job, because she (stupidly) worked for her boyfriend, and he traded her in for a younger model. Charlie Tenniel shows up on the same day to take over the all night spot, and Allie is his new producer. Except Charlie isn't really a DJ; his dad is friends with the radio station owner, and apparently there is something rotten going on at WBBB, and Charlie's been tasked with discovering it. I guess Charlie is some sort of private investigator? I'm not really sure. Jen was unclear. Anyway, Allie and Charlie have a meet-cute (of course), some hot sex, some witty repartee with Allie's gay roommate, there's some radio-station drama, and there's an orphaned puppy that only sucks on the bottle when Billy Joel is playing. The big mystery going on at the radio station turns out to be the owner's son is growing pot and selling it to the old ladies in town to help with their chemotherapy nausea, which was sweet, but pretty anti-climactic if you ask me. And of course Alie's boyfriend (Mark? Roger? I can't remember) wants her back, but she decides to stay with Charlie and they have puppies and it's adorable. Except...Jen couldn't remember if Allie's name was Allie or Alice and kept switching it mid-story, which kind of irritated me. Two and a half stars, mainly cause the heat wasn't all that hot.
What the Lady Wants brings us Mitch Peabody, a stockbroker who bet that he couldn't make a go of a private investigator business and have it running in the black within a year. He's 363 days in to the year and $2300 short when Mae Belle Sullivan walks through his door, dressed in a pink suit complete with a veil a la the Maltese Falcon. Mae is convinced her uncle was murdered, even though he was 75 and died in the arms of his 25 year old mistress. Mae writes Mitch a check, effectively winning his bet for him, and Mitch agrees to take the case. The mob gets involved in the form of one of Mae's other uncles, it turns out the dead uncle got married to a shrew of a woman just before he died (and not the mistress), and, oh yeah, all the money is gone. The police suddenly suspect Mae, there's a big hostage situation, and the real killer turns out to be the mistress (duh). Three stars.
Manhunting brings Kate Svenson to a resort tucked in to the Kentucky countryside. Apparently it's The Place to meet eligible men, and since Kate has decided it's time to get married, that's where she goes. Except all the men are dolts. Sure, they are good looking and they are wealthy, but they're all kind of dull and jerky. (Actually, they're like Ronald in The Paper Bag Princess.) Except for Jake Templeton, the silent partner who doubles as the handyman, and who also spends every morning fishing on the lake with Kate. But Kate doesn't want Jake - she's here to get herself a city boy. Except...Jake's awfully tempting. And she has fun bartending at the dive bar in town. And back to Jake being awfully tempting. What's a girl to do but run away for awhile, figure it out, and come back. Issues with this book include the fact that Kate is an up-and-coming financial wizard and yet is able to leave her job for two weeks, the other guys at the resort are a little bit rapey (although Kate can clearly handle herself, but it's still kind of icky), and the first night Kate goes to the local bar, she winds up bartending and is awesome at it. Anyone who has spent any time waiting tables and/or bartending knows that it's hard, and it takes a bit to get the groove. But in the end, of course, Jake proposes (with a fish ring) and Kate says yes. Two stars, mainly because of the aforementioned weird rapey feelings. And the whole shopping for a husband set up.