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~Fast Women~

by Jennifer Crusie

      Heroine:     underweight, then average

     Nell Dysart is in search of a new job.  Why?  Because her last boss divorced and replaced her with a little something in a size two.  So much for investing 22 years in building a marriage, family, and award-winning insurance agency!

     The depressed mother of one is egged on by her ultra-supportive-though-equally-off-kilter ex-sisters-in-law to get a job.  Nell heeds their advice and, feeling washed up and washed out, heads for the McKenna investigative firm to apply for a temporary position as a secretary.  Over the course of her interview she becomes a nervous wreck and inadvertently destroys half the office.  Despite the disaster she wreaks upon her surroundings,  Nell is a shoo-in; especially given that the agency's owner is desperate and Nell just happens to be an ex-in-law of one of his biggest clients.

     P. I. Gabe McKenna is living his life stuck in a rut.  And he likes it that way.   His office looks the same as it did when it was first established by his father: from the peeling paint on the walls, to the swaybacked furnishings, right down to the picture frames sporting the exact same photographs covered with the exact same dust mites.  He's still driving the same car, a late seventies model Porsche (which was also his father's).  And he's still clinging to a relationship with next-door-neighbor Chloe, his ex-wife of ten years. 

     From the moment Gabe offers the pale, slight woman the job, he knows he is going to regret it.  Doing a 180, Nell becomes a model of efficient competency and starts making big plans for the place.  New decor, new business cards, new lettering on the windows . . and a new partner:  herself!  Gabe, who dislikes even the most minor breezes in his life, won't tolerate the human tornado that is Nell.  He vows to replace the interfering nuisance as quickly as possible.

    But somewhere along the way through murder investigations, family skeletons that won't stay in the closet, a kidnapped dog, and the daily butting of heads, Gabe and Nell manage to ignite a spark of passion between them.  They can make steamy love together, but can they ever learn to work together?

      What worked for me:

     I picked this story up because other Stephanie Plum fans recommended it as a sassy, funny read.  I wasn't disappointed.

     Technically this book is billed as a romantic suspense, but what actually held my interest the most was the relationship between the three highly dysfunctional women (not one of whom was under 30).  I was really rooting for them to all get their lives back on track! 

     There were some fun references and parallels to old black and white classic films, complete with star look-a-likes: Gabe is William Powell sans moustache and Nell is Myrna Loy with newly "retouched" red hair.

     Size-wise, Nell began the story excruciatingly underweight after eighteen months of not eating, thanks to her husband of twenty-two years up and leaving her with nothing but repressed anger.  Over the course of the book she regains some of the weight until she's a healthier size.  (Though apparently she was a bit heavier before her divorce and opted not to gain all of the weight back.)

What didn't work for me:    

      I don't usually care for bed-hopping in my books, but since the hopping happened before the relationship started I can overlook it. 

     No Maddie Hayes and David Addison here. (If you never caught the show "Moonlighting", you've missed out!)  The main characters in "Fast Women" were perhaps a bit too ornery for my tastes.  I like 'em feisty, but Nell and Gabe were control freaks to the extreme. 

      I won't divulge the specifics here, but the mystery left me with a nagging question or two.  However, I read the book late into the night and may not have absorbed or assimilated a crucial fact here and there due to sleep-deprivation.


      A funny, sexy, quick read full of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, and a puzzling mystery.  Be sure to toss it in your bag if you have a long flight this summer. 

      Thanks to this book, I've bumped Jennifer Crusie to the top of my "must find more titles by this author" list during the current Stephanie Plum drought.  (There is coarse language and some talk of lesbianism in this book, just to warn those of you who aren't into that sort of thing.)

     If you liked "Fast Women", you might also enjoy "Love at Large", "Bet Me", "Crazy For You",  "Name Dropping", "Faking It""Welcome to Temptation", The "Stephanie Plum" mystery series, "Dating Dead Men", "Plum Girl", "Princess Charming", "Infernal Affairs", "Switcheroo", "Heaven in Your Eyes", "Some Girls Do", "Lola Carlyle Reveals All", and "The Saving Graces".

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