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~Faking It~

by Jennifer Crusie

      Heroine:     "softly-padded" average

     An artist and con-artist pull off separate heists on the same house, the threat of discovery by its owners leading the two thieves into having a surprise "close" encounter in a walk-in closet.  The artist, a guilt-ridden forger by the name of Mathilda Goodnight, realizes her partner in kissing would make an equally excellent partner in crime, and uses whatever feminine wiles she has at her disposal to convince him to help her recover the fake painting she's after.

    Nearly-gone-straight con man Dave Dempsey has one last job to pull before retiring: he has to retrieve some money he's lost, $3 million dollars which his lovelorn former financial advisor bestowed upon Dave's ex, a certain black widow beauty queen.  Dave's street smarts tell him to forget the pleas laid on him by the vamp shut up in the closet with him, but in the end it's not his brain he listens to and he agrees to help her out. 

     What seemed to be a one-time done-deal quickly goes awry when 'Tilda discovers that her attractive new friend has nicked the wrong painting!  Fortunately for her, he didn't get what he wanted either and has decided it's to his advantage to maintain their partnership.  Holed up in her kooky family's apartment building where they are surrounded by an eclectic assortment of tenants (an aging Bohemian with repressed rage and a keen sense of wordplay, a teacher-in-training whose smutty alter ego has a wardrobe to rival Madonna, plus her gay cross-dressing ex-husband and their wise-beyond-her-years teen daughter, a hit man, and a shaggy wiener dog who looks like his namesake Steven Buscemi) Dave and 'Tilda try to regroup and figure out how to reclaim the money and all six forgeries before it's too late. 

     Will Dave ever bring back the right painting?  Will 'Tilda ever be able to make-out with him anywhere but in a dark closet?  And when all is said and done, will the two of them be able to admit that they belong together like butter on a muffin?

      What worked for me:

     One of Ms. Crusie's greatest strengths is writing excellent dialogue; "Faking It" is overflowing with witty one-liners and snappy comebacks.  And readers can always count on her to provide a colorful cast of characters!  (In my mind it's a shame she hasn't been drafted by one of the major networks to breathe new life into their faltering sit-coms.  She's got a real knack for screwball comedy!)

     I'm a true fan of romance, and while some folks might find it too pat an ending that so many of the characters managed to find true love, it suited me just fine.

     Size-wise, 'Tilda sounded as though she were on the round side of average and seemed to be relatively comfy in her own skin.  (She was, however, somewhat frigid due to emotional issues related to her stint as a forger.)

What didn't work for me:    

      I prefer that the romance come before the physical relationship in a story.  This book blurred the line a bit there, having the characters fall in love at first "sight" and then falling into bed shortly thereafter. 

      If a reader isn't up on her knowledge of pop culture or the art world some of the references and jokes may go over her head.  And the character descriptions are dependent upon being familiar with a slew of celebrities and movie personalities.  Should the reader not recognize a name that's been dropped, she consequently has very little framework upon which to rest her image of that person.  (For this reason, the large cast of characters with their many names can become confusing to some.  I'll be the first to stand up and admit I have no idea who "Vilma" was, so I had no strong mental image to call up whenever her name appeared.)


      This quirky, light-hearted romantic comedy was an enjoyable read that stands alone just fine, but I do wish I'd stop backing into series this way.  I'm off to the bookstore to pick up a copy of the prior novel "Welcome to Temptation" to fill in some of the blanks.

     "Faking It" had an interesting plot; one intriguing enough that I think it would appeal to fans of mysteries if they don't mind the sensual passages.

     Warning: There are some spicy love scenes and some coarse language in this story.

     If you liked "Faking It", you might also enjoy "Love at Large", "Welcome to Temptation", "Bet Me", "Fast Women", The "Stephanie Plum" mystery series, "Dating Dead Men", "Plum Girl", "Blushing Pink", "Princess Charming", "Infernal Affairs", "Switcheroo", "It Had to be You""This Heart of Mine", or "Dear Cupid".

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Good-bye, Mom.

I love you and will miss you forever.


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