Review of BET ME by Jennifer Crusie (see her website)
St. Martin's Press, February 2004
When boyfriend David breaks up with her just weeks before her sister's wedding, Minerva Dobbs thinks her life has hit a low--she can't fit in her bridesmaid dress, thinks she's fat, works as an acturarial, and now she's dateless for the big event. But live takes a quick downturn when she overhears her ex-boyfriend and some of his friends betting on whether one of them can get her to bed in thirty days. On the other hand, Cal Morrisey is a hunk. If she can string him along, she'll have that date to the wedding. It's a plan, except that Min's emotions tend to get in the way. David was a sleaze, but Cal is close to the real fairy tale prince. And Min can't afford to have her heart broken again.
She may think she's fat, but Cal thinks Min is about perfect. If she'd only wear clothes that show off her figure rather than hide it. He turns on the charm not to win the bet because he wouldn't really bet on getting a woman into bed, but because he's attracted and ready to move on with his life. But Cal has his own issues and he's not sure he can deal with a woman who's always rejecting him, who likes Elvis Presley, or who keeps asking him strange questions about secrets. Still, fate seems to have plans of its own and Cal and Min can't seem to stay apart even when they try. Of course, things get serious when Min's ex-boyfriend and Cal's ex-girlfriend gang up to break up the new couple.
Author Jennifer Crusie (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Crusie) creates a fresh and contemporary telling of the cinderella myth. Although the shoes are no longer glass slippers but sexy fruit-enhanced pumps, and the wicked stepsisters are transformed into ex's, it's still the classic fairy tale--but told with Crusie humor and insights into the human condition. Min's insecurities about her weight, her issues with her mother, and her fears about her future all ring true. And it's refreshing to see a romance heroine who doesn't think that instant pregnancy is a great thing.
For me, at least, Crusie is one of those authors who creates characters that take a while to get into. I almost invariably start a Crusie book and, twenty pages in, convince myself that this time, I won't like the characters. But she always manages to hook me and she certainly did with this charming fairy tale.
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