Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

This is my first Jennifer Crusie book, and it's also an AAR Top 100 Romance (which could be disastrous for me on both accounts). But guess what - I loved it! Yippee! I'm not the cynical person I was afraid of being after all.

This work has common elements with works by Susan Andersen and Rachel Gibson, especially Gibson. It involves a fictional small-town, with one character "going home" followed by the heroine and her sister to produce an audition tape. Sophie, heroine, isn't from here - in fact, isn't from anywhere. Her family is notorious - con men/women for generations back. Once her mother died, leaving her father desolate, Sophie took over as parent and kept her younger brother and sister in one place, in school. As adults, she still fulfills the parental role - and although she's wise in the ways of the con, she isn't one herself.

I laughed outloud at the idea of having the mayor named Phineas Tucker be the hero - he's the 4th generation of Phineas Tuckers to be mayor in this tiny burg. He's got a 9-year-old daughter whose mother is dead from an accident - a woman he had to marry because she got pregnant, and from whom he was separated since before daughter Dillie was even born. He and Dillie live with his battle ax of a mother - she's got Junior League written all over her, and I do not mean that as a compliment.

The story was laugh-out-loud funny all the way through, even when a character ends up dead. OK, he'd been shot, drugged, Maced and thrown in the river - but what killed him was a heart attack, so it wasn't really murder. Well, unless you count the fact that several characters were aware there was a problem and no one stepped in to help, but apparently only 1 character could have helped.

The love scenes are sizzling hot and funny too - I really think this might be the first time I've ever read a romance where the characters got out of the mood during love scenes (and sometimes stopped altogether). It was a great blend of cartoony-behavior and realistic actions - maybe I wouldn't have ever found myself in these situations, but if I had I might have reacted the same way!!

The gist of the story is the character of Clea coming home to create her audition video, and bringing videographers Sophie and her sister Amy along to produce it. The video somehow morphs into a soft porn for women video, and then into hard core porn - all of which might be against the new town ordinance against porn created when they all arrived in town. There are plenty of crazy small-town characters, including the mayor who really runs a book store, and the police chief, a mayor-wannabe, an actor-wannabe, a Cincinnati news anchor who is not from there - well, you practically need a scorecard to keep up. The 9-year-old is funny if a little too aware, and I love how she tries to con the con women without much success.

So many books to read, so little time - I guess it's a keeper and it's definitely 5 stars.

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