All her novels, anyway.
Tell Me Lies
New readers, start here. This is one of my favorites. It’s probably the most straightforward exploration of what’s become a consistent theme: the heroine escapes a bad relationship and sets out to find a new life. I love the first chapter, especially the first sentence.
Welcome to Temptation
Also one of my favorites. I think this is the one where Crusie really started to use the sex scenes to reveal things about the characters that you wouldn’t learn at any other time. Sara Donati did a lovely analysis of one of them. This story is really about family, though—family and cons.
Ah, Faking It. This IS my favorite. It’s a sequel to Welcome to Temptation, but I read this one first and a few things didn’t quite make sense. This book is about Tilda, a repressed painter whose ancestors have been forging great works of art for centuries. She encounters Davy in a closet as she’s trying to steal back a painting of hers and he’s trying to steal back the missing money from the end of WTT. Things get wackier from there. Since the book is about con men, art forgers, and split personalities, I have to say that Faking It is the best title ever.
If you’ve already read the book, check out #5 in this old comment thread to find out why Faking It is my favorite. I won’t mention it again here because it’s fairly spoilerish.
This is the only one of Crusie’s books (leaving aside Sizzle for the moment) that I haven’t re-read. It’s not a very comfortable tale. That’s not to say it isn’t a good one. The characters in this one are more deeply flawed—not just one of them, either, but almost the entire cast, and this book has more of an ensemble to start with. They’re sympathetic as hell, but … oh, I cringe for them.
Crazy For You
I didn’t like this one nearly as much as the others at first, but it’s growing on me with every re-read. The heroine is so very believable, and the ex-boyfriend is so very, very creepy. Even creepier than the ex in Getting Rid of Bradley, and that’s saying a lot.
This is an oddity among the more recent books in that there’s nothing much going on in the heroine’s life to distract her from the hero. There’s no work tension, no crime, just lots of dinner dates and bar encounters to throw the two of them together. Maybe that’s why this one fell a little flat for me. The romance is great—just as delightful and quirky as the others—but I kept wanting something more out of the story that never materialized.
Charlie All Night
Someone told me that Crusie’s work had gotten too political for Harlequin’s taste, and it wasn’t until I read this one that I found out why. There’s a pot legalization subplot and some stuff with the heroine’s gay roommate. All of it works really well, and all of it is guaranteed to set a staunch conservative’s teeth on edge. I love this book to death despite the title. It refers to a late night radio show, if you’re wondering. The Harlequin cover is awful, and I’m looking forward to the Mira reissue coming later this year because this is the kind of cover you don’t want to be seen with in public. Never mind that it’s a bedroom scene and the heroine is in a teddy. The artist warped her head so he could show more of her face. She’s a MUTANT, for God’s sake.
The Cinderella Deal
Trust Me On This
These two feel different than the rest of the early romances, and I can sort of see how they ended up getting published in a different line. Trust Me is an early take on con men, a profession used to great effect in Welcome to Temptation and Faking It. The hero in this one is a detective who at first mistakes the heroine for his quarry’s accomplice. The problem is that the con man is always more interesting than the guy chasing him, so as likeable as Alec is, one has the feeling that the characters over there somewhere are having more fun. Cinderella is a very quiet book. The heroine is smart and witty but not especially brash or sarcastic. There’s not much of a subplot here. It’s a wish-fulfillment story for creative types, and I like it for that angle even though the plot is contrived as hell and the hero irritates me a little.
Anyone But You
Easy, breezy, delightful.
The author claims this one stinks on ice and asks that you not read it, and I can’t disagree.
This was the first one I read, and while it’s nowhere near the top of my favorites list, it was still good enough to get me in the store looking for more of the author’s work.
What the Lady Wants
The hero is a noirish private eye, except he’s not really, and this situation is so contrived that the whole story seems pretty silly. Fast Women does the noir thing so much better. Nick and Tess from Strange Bedpersons make brief appearances.
Getting Rid of Bradley
I think the hero tried to take over this book. I probably would’ve let him; he’s darling. If for no other reason, read this book to hear a woman explain how the second law of thermodynamics dictated that she marry a stuffed shirt. Don’t worry, she gets rid of him. The title tells you so.
I love this one. It’s not especially deep or anything, it’s just really, really funny.
Whew. That’s all the book reviews for a while—at least until I get back from New York.