by Jennifer Crusie, contemporary (2003)
St Martin's Press, $7.50, ISBN 0-312-98382-4
This book is flat. I hardly break into a chuckle during the entire 432 pages of Faking It. Which is probably why this book is called Faking It, I guess. There are so many one-liners, so many wacky characters that this book is getting dangerously close to Janet Evanovich territory, and a heroine so dull as she makes dishwater just to die for.
Tilda Goodnight is now a mural artist, but once, she was Scarlet Hodge that replicated original artworks for her father. Her problem starts when one of her unsold paintings get sold. If her past works are discovered, the reputation of her family gallery will be ruined! A little B&E to retrieve the painting may be the answer once the buyer refuses to give it back. She encounters Davy Dempsey, a conman trying to get back his three million dollars that he conned from... well, it's a long story... and she manages to get him to steal the painting for her. They share a kiss and he is so intrigued that he starts stalking her, much to her exasperation.
And that's it. The rest of the book is padded with one-liners and moments of humor that are rather bland. Davy is supposed to be a charming conman trying to go straight, but he doesn't act like a conman. He comes off like a one-dimensional one-liner cranking machine. Tilda is bland - a martyr doing wacky things to rescue her ridiculous family while complaining about it. Like too many of this author's full length title heroines, Tilda doesn't act as much as she merely reacts to the situations around her. The secondary characters are all uniformly bland and cardboard-thin functioning only to set up non-stop ha-ha's. And if the whole humor doesn't come off as forced enough, movie quotes - which I am supposed to be tickled pink at - pop up all over the place to the point of overkill. A few movie quotes are okay, but characters that drop movie quotes for every situation are certifiably crazy and should be institutionalized because memorizing every line of every movie for a potential situation in life is just one step away from holding up Blockbusters using a TV set.
There is a very forced coolness in this book. Everyone is trying so hard to be funny, hip, and avant garde by abusing movie quotes and one-liners but they are actually doing very little else. Characterization is barely there, the plot is barely nothing more than thinly strung-together "funny" scenes, and rational behavior is often sacrificed for the sake of being funny. I generally enjoy this author's comedy, but Faking It is just not it. This is probably a book for the most devoted fans only.
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