Friday, September 24, 2010

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie *****

I feel like I've been in an audio book slump. I've been doing a lot of re-listens; I have a few audio books in my library that I just can't bring myself to even start - every time I think I'll start, I just can't do it; I've listened to some new ones and some that I've already read the book that I just didn't like. Wahhhh, whine whine whine. I've DNFed two audio books in the past month! I started a Dorothy Garlock - free from the library - and after maybe an hour or so, decided the dang narrator was just too dramatic for the story. Lots of inflection issues and drama - and right when the hero was being described, I just turned it off.

So when I perused the AAR All About Audiobooks column and came across a discussion of Jennifer Crusie books, I thought - hey, I like many of her books, let's listen to some more of her audio books. The reviews at Audible weren't very encouraging, but I picked up The Cinderella Deal for a pretty low price and jumped in.

What a fun story! It's a sort of Dharma and Greg-ish plot, except they aren't in love at the beginning. The hero, Linc Blaise, is a logical, orderly teacher trying to get a new position at a college in his home state. When the department head indicates they would be more interested in a married man, Linc lies and says he has a fiancee. The department insists he bring the fiancee along to the interview, and he has to come up with someone who will fit the bill.

Linc's downstairs (or is it upstairs?) apartment neighbor is Daisy - she's not exactly Dharma, but she's a free spirit who quit her teaching job to follow her painting passion. In addition, she's a story teller and sells her handmade jewelry - but none of this is quite enough to support herself, and at 34, she's almost run through her savings and is at the end of her rope financially.

Linc thinks that (1) because she lies for a living (as a story teller) and (2) she has a nice Little House on the Prairie look, she will fit the bill as his pretend-fiancee. When he offers to pay her $1,000, Daisy accepts because she figures it's a no-brainer - she gets the infusion of cash she needs for about 24 hours of acting.

Daisy's a hit with the college, and Linc gets the job - case closed, relationship over. Of course, they both think the other is attractive but so far from their usual boy/girlfriend-type that they don't even pretend an actual relationship after the 24 hours is over. Months go by, Linc moves to the college town and runs into his first obstacle: the department head won't go for the story that Linc and Daisy broke up and insists he go get her and they get married. Then the fun starts.

The banter is some of Crusie's best, in my opinion. I laughed out loud several times at Daisy's and Linc's dialog and inner thoughts. Even the implausible situation seemed plausible enough - Daisy was just thinking she needed a change in her life when Linc shows up to ask her to be his pretend bride for 10 months, and they do live for a few months in separate bedrooms, never acting on their attraction.

It's a fun, heartwarming story with an emphasis on Daisy's finding herself and in the process helping Linc find himself as well, and I really really loved it! I read an interview in which Crusie says that TCD is an earlier book that later she re-wrote for an editor, Strange Bedpersons. I'd already read SB, and while similar, it is a completely new book!

and maybe - just maybe I'm out of my audio book slump. We'll see - Crusie's Manhunting (which I've read but not heard) is next.

5 stars - oh, and the narrator was good too! Susan Boyce - not sure if I've heard her before, but I liked her.

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