August 1996, Series Romance
Harl Love and Laughter #4, $3.50, Amazon ASIN 0373440049
There are really three lead characters in Jennifer Crusie's Anyone But
You - Alex, the 30-year-old doctor with a
penchant for Daffy Duck shorts, Nina, the 40-year-old divorcee who left her
first husband because she no longer wanted to be
a "Country Club Wife," and Fred, the sad-eyed, bad-breathed, Oreo-chomping
dog who brings them together. With this trio,
author Crusie created such an hilarious and sexy romance that it won
Favorite Funny in my
1996 Reader Awards, and honorable mention for
Favorite Romance, Favorite
Heroine and Favorite Couple. I've read and enjoyed a couple of
other series romances by Crusie, but, until this
weekend, never found the right time to take this one off my TBR shelves.
Well, the time was finally right, and Anyone
But You lived up to my expectations.
When Nina Askew rescued Fred from the animal shelter, he wasn't exactly the
perky pup she was looking for. But since
they were getting ready to serve him his last meal, what choice did she have? Yes, he smelled bad, yes, he sagged in all
the wrong places, and yes, he didn't look as grateful as he should have, but
Fred gave Nina what she was looking for -
When Nina meets Alex Moore, he's returning Fred to her apartment from his
own the floor below. See, Nina's taught
Fred to take the fire escape down to the back yard to do his business, and
he got confused on how many flights to climb in
order to return to her apartment. Naturally Alex finds this interesting, as
he does the adorable-looking Nina. In return,
Nina sees a gorgeous young hunk, and wrongly assumes there aren't brains
behind his brawn.
While each feels drawn to the other, neither is able to act on their
feelings, even when Nina realizes Alex is no himbo.
She's convinced she's too old for him and he's sure she thinks he's not
responsible enough. Even with advice from his
brother Max, her friend Charity, and a nosey neighbor who's 75, but doesn't
a day over 60, and has her own younger
man, these two can't seem to get together until, one day, they finally do.
The love scene that results is a combination of
great sensuality and wonderful wit. Wouldn't you love a man who, after
you've explained you want to keep your bra on
because "everything's lower than it used to be," simply responds, "I
don't care if it's on the floor."?
The secondary characters are well-drawn; Max, in particular, is a strong
foil for Alex both in comedy and pathos. I wish
Max could get his own romance, but now that Crusie has moved onto hardbacks,
it seems unlikely. Charity rounds out
the book as well, particularly when she goads Nina - even though her own
love life has been such a disaster she's writing
a book about it.
There are some small things that bothered me somewhat. As someone with pets, I found it somewhat disconcerting that
Fred was allowed in the room while Nina and Alex were making love. Yes, the
author turned it into a joke, but I always
make sure my husband and I are alone when things turn amorous in our house -
I just don't want my cats watching us.
Too, it seemed a bit silly that Alex would assume Nina wanted a return to
her old life as a trophy wife. It seemed fairly
obvious that Nina did everything she could to get as far away from that life
as possible, including turning her husband
down in Alex's presence when he asked her to come back to him.
On the other hand, reading about characters who truly liked
one another was such a treat, especially in
that the author was able to maintain such a high level of sexual tension.
Less talented authors often sacrifice sexual
tension for friendship; Crusie never does. And, Nina's insecurities about
her body and her age were handled with a deft
touch. The older-woman/younger-man scenario was never an issue for this
reader and the theme of unconditional love
and how Nina and Alex worked it out was rendered so well that I wish Crusie
were still writing these shorter books so I
could read them more often.
Her books are very difficult to come by, but if you ever come across this
one or have it in your tbr pile, snatch it up and give it a
try! And if you haven't re-read it since its release, you may want to give
it a second go-round; it's one of those books that can
be read more than once.
-- Laurie Likes Books
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