From Kate's Writing Crate…
Author Jennifer Crusie was researching women writers and romance novels for her dissertation. After reading about 100 romances, she thought she could write a good one—and she was right. Then she went on to write many bestsellers.
Her leads are all smart, hard-working women with great friends dealing with the messes in their lives mostly caused by dating Mr. Wrongs. (Although loving, but aggravating family members certainly contribute to these messes). Since, as the saying goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your prince, they learn from their mistakes and move on. Their Mr. Rights show up in unexpected places, under unusual conditions, or are unrecognized at first. That's when the fun begins.
From a writer's perspective, Crusie's descriptions of settings are fantastic. She makes you want to live in some of the homes (Lucy's in Getting Rid of Bradley), visit some of the businesses (the detective agency in Fast Women), and make reservations at the restaurants (especially Emilio's in Bet Me). Also, Crusie's love of food comes across in the detailed descriptions of every dish and the ambiance of the settings where characters enjoy eating these meals.
As she includes in all her books, getting together with your best friends is what keeps women sane. Girl talk, laughter, tears, and unconditional support are as essential as breathing.
Her takes on men and relationships are funny and truthful. In the end, there are good guys and not-good-for-you guys in this world. Pain is inevitable in either case, but love, commitment, and trust make things bearable until things are resolved. And when you are truly and mutually in love with the right man, there's no better feeling.
Along with all this love, longing, and laughter, Crusie likes to include dogs and the occasional cat in her novels as women can always count on their pets for support and comfort. Some pets are there from the beginning while others make their debuts as part of storylines. However they get into the books, the dogs and cats are all delightful characters, too.
So if you enjoy reading witty Chick Lit—and based on sales, many of us do—I recommend these Jennifer Crusie novels:
Nell Dysart's best friend and sister-in-law, Suze, thinks working as the secretary for a detective agency would be a good way for Nell to start recovering from her over-a-year-ago divorce. Gabe McKenna is not so sure, but since his biggest client is married to Suze and his current secretary has disappeared, he reluctantly agrees. Ever-efficient, Nell starts organizing appointment books, records, past files, and, much to Gabe's dismay, updating the office décor. She discovers that the previous secretary was embezzling and dealing in secrets and blackmail. Trouble follows once Nell forces the secretary to repay the money and then shares all the bad news with Gabe and his associate, Riley. Nell is also in the doghouse for dognapping a dachshund, along with Suze, for a 'client' on a case Gabe refused to take on. The 'client' then refuses to keep the dog so Nell now has a constant companion. Gabe has never been so angry or so intrigued with a woman, but his life doesn't need any more complications. Too bad because Nell is part of Gabe's destiny as is a long ago murderer who thought certain secrets were buried forever, but now has to kill again.
Actuary Minerva Dobbs, wearer of gray suits but great shoes, gets dumped by her boyfriend, David, who she has not slept with yet, at The Long Shot club a few weeks before her younger sister's perfect wedding. Knowing her mother will be disappointed in her yet again, Min needs a new boyfriend stat. As she puts a plan of action into place with her two best friends, she overhears her now ex-boyfriend betting Cal Morrison that he cannot sleep with Min within one month, but she mishears the response. Min moves away calculating that the handsome Cal can be her wedding escort before she breaks up with him so he loses the bet—or maybe she will sleep with Cal so David will lose the bet. Details to be decided later. For now, dating Cal would solve her biggest problem. After asking her out that same night (a bet he did make), Cal introduces her to Emilio's, an Italian family-run restaurant for 80 years and home of the world's best bread and Chicken Marsala. However, despite the great food, Min cannot see herself dating Cal. Wishing each other well, they go back to their own lives until chance meetings bring them together again and again to discover their mutual love of classic movies like Big Trouble in Little China, Krispy Kreme donuts, and Elvis music although it turns out to be Costello for him and Presley for her. Their families are dysfunctional. Their best friends are dating each other. And their relationship is based on a bad bet everyone thinks Cal made. Are the odds for true love—and a home with Elvis the cat and a dog to be named later—in their favor?
Getting Rid of Bradley
Detective Zack Warren depends on his instincts as well as his training to track down white collar criminals which is why he and his partner, Detective Anthony Taylor, are waiting over an hour in a diner for embezzler John Bradley to show up. Bradley doesn't arrive, but watching two attractive women at another table has made the wait more interesting. The sisters, Lucy and Tina, are celebrating Lucy's divorce from Bradley Porter. As they leave, Lucy [promises her sister], "…As soon as I get home, I will get rid of Bradley." She meant his belongings still in the house, but Zack doesn't know that. He thinks she is involved with his embezzler so he follows her out the door and down an alley where someone takes a shot at her. Lucy thinks Zack is a mugger and fights to get away hitting him in the face with her bag full of textbooks and runs flagging down two cops to arrest Zack. Exhausted, she is too tired to wait for the cops to come back so she leaves her name and address under their windshield wiper and heads home. Frustrated, and tired of being teased about a high school teacher beating him up, Zack goes to Lucy's house for an interview where he meets her three canine housemates. Turns out, Zack's instincts were right. The two Bradleys are connected and someone is out to scare off or hurt Lucy. Since she will not abandon her cozy Victorian dream home, Zack moves in and falls for Lucy and her dogs while learning to cook and keeping them safe from a determined criminal. Luckily for Zack, Lucy is fearless enough to keep him safe, too. Phoebe the cat, living with her owner next door, provides wonderful comic relief in this novel.
Charlie All Night
Radio Producer and untitled-station-manager-everyone-turns-to-in-a-crisis Allie McGuffey has just lost her morning drive show. She thinks it's because her ex-lover and the host of the show wants her out, but, unbeknownst to her, the station owner has hired Charlie Tenniel to investigate a threatening letter sent to the station. Since Allie is the best producer, he needs her to make Charlie's show succeed so no one guesses he is not a real DJ. Allie is angry about the demotion, but not enough not to notice Charlie's good points. Who wouldn't fall for a guy with a smooth voice, sense of humor, love for Mrs. McCarthy's Chinese food, and great hands—especially when he is helping to keep Sampson, an abandoned tiny black Lab puppy, alive by taking his turn bottle feeding him every hour while hosting the Charlie All Night show from 10pm-2am. Pulling out all the stops, Allie is determined to make Charlie a star while he wants to keep a low profile, solve the letter mystery, and move on to his next adventure. Their polar opposite goals lead to a whole lot of friction and a crazy bet. While the investigation comes to a painfully touching conclusion, Charlie debates his wanderlust versus love and lust for Allie. When it comes right down to it, there's only one place Charlie wants to be all night—now he just has to convince the love of his life it's simply wherever she is.
What do you think of Jennifer Crusie's writing style?