by Jennifer Crusie, contemporary (2001, 1994 reissue)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-865-3
Manhunting's recent reissue and Getting Rid Of Bradley only drive home two points: (a) yes, ditsy blondes really can have fun and make me adore them to bits, neurotic behavior and all, and (b) it was only about six years ago that the Silhouette/Harlequin paper mill actually released stories devoid from those dreaded pink squares on the cover saying inane things like Nine-Month Surprise Bonanza Babies!.
Actually, I'm reading the original 1993 and 1994 editions, which I'm told are worth quite a bit and will make me some money if I hawk them somewhere (they are in mint condition), but no, there is no way I am selling these books off to the highest bidder. Hands off, they are now on my keeper shelf of contemporary funnies for future lift-me-ups.
I love Bradley better than Manhunting, but both are actually read good books that let the golden Barbie dolls that are the heroines act stupid yet still retain their dignity. Lucy Savage of Bradley and Kate Svenson of Manhunting are both airheads that get envious of their prettier sisters or best friends and look at men with nothing less than matrimony in their eyes. But the air in their skulls is the nice fizzy bubbly sort, and so that's okay with me. In both books, Ms Crusie lets these women stumble, fall, and whack their bemused men in their heads with handbags, but at the same time the men respect them and heck, the women have fun without playing the fool.
I compare them to, say, a typical Elizabeth Bevarly or Sheila Rabe book and I have to say, I think Jennifer Crusie's brand of ditz is Supreme - unforced, without exaggeration, and I never get the impression that the heroines are morons. A bit dim, but they can probably cross a busy road just fine.
Manhunting has Kate Svenson, uptight super-successful businesswoman, looking for a husband. Watch out - here she comes with her flirty best friend to The Cabins, a "tough macho bachelor's golf resort", with the intention of snagging a powerful, rich businessman to marry. I gotta love a woman who, no matter how ditzy she is, knows her priorities when it comes to the qualities of her future mate. What she finds instead are a selection of smarmy, dreary men who are either walking octopuses or just what she wants. And what she wants turns out to be dreary dull.
Except for that cowboy hunk Jake Templeton. Jake is a former lawyer who is bumming off at his brother's golf resort after a failed marriage, and he wants nothing but to be left alone, far from his family's insistence that he remarries again. His idea of a perfect woman? "Five foot two, somewhere between eighteen and twenty, dumb as coot, and she thinks I'm God."
Well, I think Kate's a bit brighter than a coot, and she's a bit taller than five foot two (I think).
In Getting Rid Of Bradley, Lucy Savage is fresh from a divorce from Bradley Porter, whom she has a pretty dull, almost sexless life. She caught him with a blonde in their house, and now she has died her hair blonde as her first measure of independence. ("She looks like Golden Barbie with crow's feet".)
Zack Warren is a cop who is looking for John Bradley, an embezzler and all-out scum. When he and his partner overhears Lucy and her friend talking about "getting rid of Bradley" in a restaurant, the men thinks it's their payday. Unfortunately, Zack gets hit with a heavy Physics textbook (thank you Lucy) and it's the wrong Bradley... or is it? Why is someone trying to kill either Lucy or Zack? Whoever it is, thanks, because Zack now has an excuse to guard Lucy's sexy posterior every day, every minute, every second...
My, my, both books are just wonderful when it comes to easy, unforced banters between not just both the main characters, but also between friends. Both stories feature some of the best best friends or best siblings I've read - Lucy and Kate genuinely love their prettier, flirty friends, and the relationship between the men are funny, just right, and no, they don't come off as women with tacked-on penises in their dialogs. But Bradley is just delightful - the chemistry between airhead and befuddled supercop is so right, so combustible, and oh so sexy. The scene where Zack desperately calls up his partner Anthony to ask for a replacement because dang it, he knows if he makes the move on Lucy he will end up a stepfather of three adorable doggies, that one is just priceless.
Cleaning my storeroom that Sunday must be the best thing to happen to me in months. Finding that one long-forgotten box of old books that a friend left me before she left for Australia (thank you Marie!) filled with now out-of-print, mostly mint-conditioned category romances like these two... that's super serendipity with a big S.
If I'm Beavis or Butthead, I'll say that with these two books, Jennifer Crusie has convinced me to elevate her to the status of Supercool. Just cool, very damned cool, man!
Rating: 94 for Bradley and 89 for Manhunting
Getting Rid Of Bradley at Amazon.com
Getting Rid Of Bradley at Amazon UK
Manhunting at Amazon.com
Manhunting at Amazon UK
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