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~Infernal Affairs~

by Jane Heller

      Heroine: Frump-turned-babe

     Frizzy, frazzled, and frayed by a boring marriage, a year-long slump in the Florida real-estate biz, and nightly rounds with a wine bottle, Barbara Chessner has truly hit the skids.  Upon being told that her hubby is dumping her for a younger-albeit-toothier gal, introverted Barbara washes down her rage with still more elixir of the vine.  Unable to speak her mind until her husband is well out of earshot, she turns to the stormy night and wishes she was free of her old rundown life.  And in the wink of an eye, her wish is granted.

    Barbara wakes the next morning as a blonde bombshell who can suddenly sing on-key, wrap handsome men around her little finger, and sell a house just by looking at a prospective buyer.  So what if this instant makeover has some drawbacks, such as explaining her new appearance to folks who have known her forever, or the fact that her breath inexplicably reeks of Brussels sprouts?  Who in their right mind would want their old life back?

    Barbara would!  It soon becomes apparent that her prayers weren't answered by the celestial being she had thought, and new bouncier breasts or no, she doesn't want to be signing on for eternity with Satan.  All Barbara has to do now is figure out where in Banyan Beach the devil is hiding and send him back where he belongs before he turns her beloved hometown into a recruiting ground for the Army of Hades. Can Barbara save her soul and her city before it's too late?

      What worked for me:

    I genuinely liked Barbara and enjoyed her transformation from doormat to independent woman.  This book had some very funny lines and scenes to savor, and I had a great time watching Barbara try to figure out what had happened to her.

What didn't work for me:    

    I get so tired of the notion that being any size in double digits necessarily equates with "frumpiness".  Barbara lost 20 pounds overnight and woke up a size 8, so she must have been merely average-sized to begin with.  The mixed message in this book really put my teeth on edge:  bigger women are ok as long as they aren't too much bigger.  And don't get me started on the fact that at the end of the story the (anti?) hero got to keep his paunch, but the heroine was on a diet to lose the double chin.

    How could a book that was so well-written for the first three quarters go so far astray at the end?  The climax and resolution of this story just fell so flat for me.  The first attempt to rid this little corner of Florida of its supernatural visitor came off as ridiculous (not in a good way), and the final solution to the town's troubles came off as trite.   The confrontation between good and evil left me thinking, "That's IT?!? What was that all about?"


    Most of the book was so well-written that I still recommend it as a pretty good read, but only if you are willing to overlook a fat-phobic passage here and there and the disappointing ending.  I sincerely hope that rumors of a possible movie based on this story are true.  It has the potential to be a really cute flick if the right person develops the screenplay.

Warning: there's a bit of coarse language and a brief strange (but funny) sexual scenario.

If you liked "Infernal Affairs" you might also enjoy "Bet Me", "Name Dropping""Switcheroo", "Dating Dead Men", , "Princess Charming", "Plum Girl", The Stephanie Plum mystery series"Welcome to Temptation""Faking It", and  "Fast Women".

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