Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Crusie

Jennifer Crusie books are a must read for any romantic comedy fan. A published author since the mid-90s, Crusie is a pen name for Jennifer Smith, a Ohio native. She has published over 15 novels, several of which were co-authored by New York Times Best Selling author Bob Mayer.

Her characters tend to be witty and humorous, with a heaping dash of sexy thrown in. There is always lots of food and laughter in the pages of her books, and typically a smidge of suspense and murder. Her heroines don't shy away from the occasional damsel in distress mode, but tend to be extremely strong characters who are capable of taking care of themselves. The heroes are also strong, and prone to a damsel in distress scene or two, as well. While any book you could pick up by her promises to be a fantastic read, here are some of my favorites.

Her earliest work, Manhunting is the first book that I picked up by her. The story follows Kate, a successful businesswoman who is about as unlucky in love as they come. Three broken engagements have led her to decide that it is time to get it together, create a plan, and stick with it. She puts together a check list of exactly what she wants in a man and heads up to a remote resort in order to find Mr. Right. But who she finds instead is Jake.

Jake is about as unmotivated and unambitious as Kate is driven and successful. He has sworn off all responsibility and lives a life of lazy abandon. He is nothing like what Kate imagined for her list, but from the moment they meet it's clear there is something between them.

Manhunting is absolutely hilarious, and an extremely quick read. It's a lot of fun to watch as Kate realizes that maybe she doesn't really know what's best for herself after all, and to see Jake slowly start to realize that there needs to be some serious changes in his life. If you are a fan of good character growth and hate-at-first-sight romances, then Manhunting is definitely the book for you.

Agnes and the Hitman
Much as the title would suggest, Agnes and the Hitman follows Agnes, a food writer slash chef on the verge of an important catering job that could dictate her entire future. Cranky Agnes, as she goes by in her column, has family ties to the mob that go back a long way. Her best friend's daughter is getting married, and Agnes bet her livelihood on being able to pull it off without a hitch.

Not surprisingly, hitches start appearing. First, it is tiny things. Things that are easy to dismiss. Eventually, it becomes clear that her life is in danger, though she can't fully fathom why. In comes Shane to save the day. Shane, our titular hitman, has been called in to keep Agnes safe. Lured in by her cranky charm and crazy antics, Shane quickly realizes that keeping her safe has way more importance than just doing a favor for one of Agnes' mob connections.

If you like a little bit of intrigue, a lot of crazy situations, murder and a steamy romance, Agnes and the Hitman is the book for you.

Fast Women
Nell is not having a great couple of months. Left by her husband for a woman half her age, she realizes that in order to make it on her own, she is going to have to get a job. Luckily, her best friend swoops in for the rescue and gets her a job at a struggling private detective firm run by Gabe McKenna.

Gabe has his own set of issues, stemming from an ex-wife he just can't seem to get over, clients that waste his time and a partner who is getting tired of watching cheating spouses cheat.

Both adrift and not really sure where they want to go next, they find each other at just the right time. Gabe helps Nell to heal from the wounds of her divorce and to become a woman who is capable of love again.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants them to succeed and they face a lot of obstacles -and murders- along the way. Not quite as action-based as Agnes, Fast Women is perfect if you are looking for a story where someone is facing a life that has been irrevocably altered and must now start piecing together the leftover fragments. Plenty of steamy scenes and funny banter, Fast Women is one of Jennifer Crusie's best works yet.

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