Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Publication Year: 2004
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Awards: All About Romance (AAR) Annual Reader Poll for Best Romance & Best Contemporary Romance & Favorite Funny & Best Heroine & Best Chick Lit/Women's Fiction & Best Couple & Honorable Mention for Best Hero (2005), RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Contemporary Single Title (2005)
Format: Paperback from Library
Format: Paperback from Library
WHY?: I never read contemporary romance and as a rather low maintenance type of lady, the whole subgenre of "Chick Lit" just causes irritation and confusion. So I was surprised to be as intrigued by the premise of this book when it was recommended on the Get Booked Podcast as I was. I figured if I hated it I could just DNF and go back to my safe world of Regency and Paranormal romance where the lady's kick-ass or at least chafe at the bonds of society's expectations. (Psst...I didn't hate it:).
SYNOPSIS: Minerva (Min) Dobbs is an accountant who approaches life with a very practical and no nonsense eye. At the start of the book, the man who she expected to marry, but whom she didn't really care about, breaks up with her because she won't put out. Shortly thereafter she hears him make a bet with his handsome friend, who is infamous for seducing women, that he wouldn't be able to get Min in bed within the month. Min thinks she hears the handsome friend, also known as our hero Cal, agree to the bet though this is not really what happens. She's pissed and ornery, so when Cal asks her out she accepts and then makes his night pretty miserable. Cal, who is used to doing no wrong with the woman kind, is mostly put out but also a little refreshed by Min's unique personality. Sparks fly and complications ensue.
I'm not sure if it's just a case of right book, right time, if my reading tastes have changed or if perhaps this is a standout book but I really adored it. So much so that I am appalled that I have been without this delightful book for 12 years (it was published in 2004). It has been my conviction, almost religious, that I do not care for contemporary romance or anything that could be classified as "chick" lit. I don't like to shop or think about clothes or have a complicated face cleansing routine and it was my impression that this is the complete opposite of all the women that inhabit the above named subgenres. I heard about this book on a Book Riot podcast though and the presenters don't really strike me as the overly girly types either and the premise sounded kind of awesome. And you know what? It IS kind of awesome. In fact it's really awesome! I have seen the light and realize once again that having a closed mind never pays.
Minerva Dobbs is my new hero. She's cynical, practical, except for the goofy shoes she wears, a little chubby and beaten down. She dresses like she hates her body because she does thanks to her mother's obsession with weight and looks. Min's also straight forward and snarky as hell - I loved her! And while the book did have some of the hallmarks I associate with girly-girl chick lit - for one, the only thing the female characters think about is falling in love, and Min does wear high heels - I didn't feel Min was overly girly. I also really appreciated the focus on her female friendships and how not superficial those felt.
Cal is the perfect hero as well. There is lots of clever banter and he has a fantastic sense of humor. He's also not arrogant but confident enough that while he finds Min's abrasiveness a little unpleasant it doesn't scare him off. He's down to Earth and is the kind of man that finds women of all shapes and sizes beautiful. Most importantly, at least as far as I'm concerned, he's not an Alpha *choirs of angles sing*. Basically both characters in this book feel pretty real and are interesting to spend time with.
So to recap:
- Practical no-nonsense heroine
- Beta hero
- Lots of hilarious banter
- Characters that are interesting and who don't act in ways that are dictated by a wacky plot
This is pretty much the check list for romances-that-make-Stephanie-ecstatic.
FINAL VERDICT: The book was funny, light, romantic, modestly steamy and utterly delightful. 4 out of 5 Stars*
* Star ratings are weird. I really like them but at the same time they are hard. This book was a delight and I think when judged against other romances, it absolutely was a 4 star reading experience but when compared to books at large I'm not sure it quite deserves that kind of rating. Anyway, it has sparked some contemplation about how I could use star ratings that are a quick and easy way of representing how I felt about the book but also a little more descriptive. Why, yes I DO overthink everything! How did you know:)?