A couple weeks ago, some of us were discussing romance novels, and Twig loaned me another Jennifer Crusie book, Faking It. (Longtime readers may recall that a couple years ago I read Welcome to Temptation—still my favorite of Crusie's so far—followed by Crazy for You, which I didn't like so much.) Mary Anne zipped through that before I finished it, so when we found ourselves at a bookstore a couple days later, we went in and picked up a used copy of Fast Women.
I did eventually finish Faking It, and now I'm halfway through Fast Women. And I'm finding again, as I found when reading Welcome to Temptation, that reading a little Crusie in the morning or before going to bed almost invariably cheers me up. Every few pages there'll be a funny or charming moment, a bit of near-perfect dialogue, a nice plot entanglement. And I'm fascinated by her handling of sex: she has sex scenes in which the man goes ahead with things despite quasi-objections from the woman, the woman is dubious and not really interested but not actually vehemently opposed to the idea, and afterward it's neither ignored nor turned into a big deal. I think if a male writer had written these scenes, or if they were from male points of view (and Crusie does switch PoV regularly), I would be a little put off by them; but Crusie manages to handle them in a way that feels realistic rather than creepy. I think in most fiction if this sort of scene happened it would be treated as rape; and I think it would be easy for such scenes to give the impression that the author is saying that no doesn't mean no, or that it's not a big deal if a man forces a woman to have sex with him against her will. But that's not how these scenes read.
There are other common elements among her books that I don't like as much—I get a little tired of basically the same dog appearing in all of them, for example, and even though I like various aspects of her handling of the romance aspects, they are a little formulaic, in keeping with what little else I've read in the genre. And the female lead is usually someone who's always taken care of things/people, always been sensible, but thinks too much and doesn't let her emotions go; and she and the male lead fight with each other, because he's kinda take-charge (though not always in the same way), and neither one will admit their growing attraction for each other. But I don't really mind; the writing is good, the characters are engaging, everything moves right along, and it's funny and charming enough that I'll probably keep reading whatever she writes.
In fact, I sorta feel like I ought to keep a Jennifer Crusie book half-read at all times, so I'll always have something to cheer me up. But it's hard to pace myself, and I imagine I'll run out of her books fairly soon at the current rate. Ah, well.
So far, I would rank the ones I've read (or am reading) in this order, from favorite to least favorite:
- Welcome to Temptation
- Faking It
- Fast Women
- Crazy for You
I find it interesting that each one seems to me to be in a slightly different mixed genre. For example, Faking It seems to me to be something like a screwball comedy/caper/romance, while Fast Women is a mystery/romance, and Crazy for You is more of a thriller/stalker/romance. I'm not sure how I'd characterize Temptation.