Friday, February 6, 2009

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

As I have mentioned, I'm reading a lot of women's fiction at the moment in a directed reading with one of my professors, Deborah Chester (an author in a variety of genres; and also under the pseudonym Sean Dalton).  Bet Me and Hissy Fit are the first two that we'll be talking about.  I enjoyed Bet Me far more than Hissy Fit.  Hissy Fit was actually quite a disappointment.  

Synopsis of Bet Me from the book's flap:

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man like Cal Morrisey, who asked her to dinner to win a bet.  Cal Morrisey knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs.  When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.  But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal are dealing with meddling friends, wedding cake, a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kremes, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a frantic bride, Chicken Marsala, a mutant cat, snow globes, two Mothers-from-Hell, great shoes, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of, including the biggest gamble of all--unconditional love.   

From ME:

For the most part, the reviews--editorial and customer--were favorable.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the rich community of characters, the quirky aspects of the plot, and the fast pace of the novel.  The negative editorial reviews complained about the lack of complex sub-plots.  In my opinion, a Romance novel, complex sub-plots tend to take away from the main plot. Authors tend to put the main agenda on the back burner longer than necessary.  Sub-plots shouldn't overshadow the main plot.  Anyway, the negative customer reviews didn't really know what they were talking about because they complained about it being predictable.  They somehow missed out on the memo that every romance novel is predictable because it's meant to be a light, enjoyable read.  

This book definitely gave me several tips for writing my own Romance novel.  Besides making me crave bread, butter, and Krispy Kremes like I never have before, this book managed to make me laugh out loud.  The dialogue is very witty, and it made the story move quickly.  Min has a very sharp tongue, and I definitely appreciated that.  

This book opened my eyes to an alternative heroine--one that's not incredibly thin with an outrageously high metabolism that can eat whatever she wants and lose weight doing it.  It was enjoyable to read about the transition from viewing Min as chubby and plain to viewing Min as curvy and sexy.  No, she doesn't lose the weight.  That's the first question I asked my friend.  Usually, in a novel with a bigger protagonist, she loses the weight then gets the guy.  Not in this one though.  

The chemistry with Cal is strong, and I was relieved that there were so many scenes with them together.  (In my review on Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews that will be coming within the next week, I will complain about the lack of tension between hero and heroine because they're NEVER TOGETHER!!!)  It's just further confirmation that the story is so much more enjoyable if they're pushed together more.  

A few things that I'll watch out for when writing my novel is making characters too frozen.  For some reason, in the plethora of books I have read lately, the mothers are always ice queens. Does anyone out there have a supportive mom?  I found that Min's mom and her tendency to berate Min incessantly was annoying.  Then, to top that off, Cal's mom was ten times worse.  I realize that fictional characters have to be extraordinary, but I think there's a fine line that they can cross and they become caricatures.  

Also, Liza constantly being there to thwart Cal and Min got a little old.  I started to dislike her, and that shouldn't have happened.  Min's a sharp-tongued, independent woman.  She didn't need her best friend whacking Cal in the head every chance she got.  Even though the viewpoint from David and Cynthie was somewhat necessary for the story, it always fell flat.  I'm not quite sure how she could have made their scenes more interesting, but I was always ready to get their scenes over with.  Perhaps this is an instance where multiple viewpoints should have been thought out a little more carefully.  

All in all, this book is one of my favorites that I have read this semester.  The characters were well drawn, the dialogue was great, the pace was quick, there weren't large info dumps, and Crusie even allowed us a glimpse into the characters' futures in the last chapter.  

Definitely recommended.  

But make sure you have bread and donuts very, very near because if you're stuck at a location with celery and yogurt, they will end up being flung across the room.  I speak from experience.

P.S. Crusie uses commas. :)

Hissy Fit review to come later....   

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