So after a couple of years of having an on-and-off love affair with the Bitches over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - I finally decided to commit. So I went with one of their must-read Romance Authors - Jennifer Crusie
I chose to start my Harlequin education with Anyone But You because I figured worst comes to worst, I would love the dog. Needless to say, Fred (the canine protagonist), made the book come to life from page 1. I absolutely loved the hero, Alex, despite the fact that he was self-confident and perfectly content in himself. Huh? Well, I considering my preference in the tortured!hero in every genre, it is somewhat surprising that he resonated with me. And as for the heroine, Nina, I loved her almost as much as Alex - despite her hang up over his age.
Halfway through the book, I was high as a kite. I couldn't imagine a book getting any better than the gold I had in my hands. At that moment, the book was warm, comfy, toasty, melted-butter popcorn comfort. I honestly felt wholly content while reading the frigging thing. It was almost disturbing how much I enjoyed it.
But I do have one fairly major complaint that ended up knocking the book down to three and a half stars - the last forty pages. The forty pages where Jennifer Crusie decided that the characters getting together meant it was time for them to go bonkers and completely change personality. There was epic confusion, family drama, job crises, and, well, it went on. But for only forty pages. It was just plain odd. I mean, obviously, Crusie sorted it out by the end - but why it was there in the first place still confused me. I wish I could back and unread the last forty pages - because before them I had been ready to write a gushing, fangirling, five star review. Those pages ripped me out of the wonderfully comfortable world I had just gotten used to - and it was pretty shocking to the system.
The book is also a little dated. Written in the mid-nineties, the cultural references aren't so out of date - but the thinking kinda is. It was a contemporary romance, without a doubt, but still the assumptions that the characters had to get over just seemed rather redundant. Maybe it's because my generation has a lot fewer barriers to leap over when it comes to love, but I really did have to push myself into believing that the relationship obstacles, were, you know, obstacles.
Over all, I consider my first foray into contemporary romance section pretty darn positive. I look forward to reading other Cruise books, and of course continuing my work through the Smart Bitches Rec Pile!