I'll See Your Romance Novel and Raise You a Chicken Marsala (Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie)

June 10, 2013 Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 45

Woah! It’s Monday!

Ain’t that a kick in the teeth? It is for me, because I had last week off to staycation. It should come as no surprise that I spent many of my gloriously unencumbered hours devouring books. Oh yes. And visiting my nephew. He’s brand new and cuter than a son of a gun. Gratuitous Auntie photo!

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It's sticking.)

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It’s sticking.)

I’m not really here to write about my Squishy. I’m here to talk about a book! I’ve mentioned that I enjoy a little romance novel from time to time, right? One of my Certified Awesome compadres, Sarah of Sarah Says Read recommends Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie with a fair amount of frequency on her Top Ten Tuesday lists. Given her penchant for OutlanderI trust her taste in the romance department, so I decided to give it a shot.

Bet Me is the tale of an unlikely romance. Minerva Dobbs (who is second only to Minerva McGonagall on the list of Minervas who rock) is an actuary. She’s 33, not especially thin, and a rabid Elvis Prestley fan. One night she’s out at a bar with her girlfriends. Shortly after being dumped by her douchebag boyfriend David, she overhears David making a bet with a studly gent that he won’t be able to get the matronly Min in bed within a month.

Min may not be a fashion plate, but the girl is smart, and she’s got her pride. To spite her newly ex boyfriend, she takes Calvin (AKA the beastly dreamboat) up on his offer for dinner. Cal is successful and astonishingly good looking. Since Min knows he’s only with her to win a bet, she allows herself to let her guard down. She is honest, pithy, and has delightful taste in shoes (If you can rock a sandal with a goldfish on it? Get down with your bad self.) Calvin is not used to being so challenged by his lady loves and finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her.


You guys. For a romance novel? I really liked this! I liked that it was unconventional. Yes, Minerva does get the “makeover” that’s so common in these tales. HOWEVER. Cal tells her that she dresses like she hates her body. Which is true. And I think that’s a trap a TON of curvy ladies fall into. Really, any woman who isn’t completely thrilled with her body can fall into this trap, no matter what size she wears. Confidence is what’s preached, not dieting, and that’s refreshing.

Also refreshing? This book was NOT just a series of bedroom escapades. I don’t necessarily have a problem with those sorts of books, but sometimes lingering looks and a handful of smoldering kisses are just as effective. I mean, HELLO, everyone loves Pride and Prejudice because it’s so swoony, and there’s nothing even remotely hanky panky like that goes on in Austenland. True, it is a little bit cheesy. It has some decidedly Julia Roberts movie undertones. But it’s charming enough that it makes up for the cheese factor. This would be a fabulous summer beach read! (Fair warning, you will really want chicken marsala and donuts after/during reading this. Worth it.)

So, Bookworms. Romance novels. Yay or Nay? Do you ever tread into these waters? Do you like a little romance or are you completely put off by the silliness that so often accompanies it? Do tell.

45 Responses to “I'll See Your Romance Novel and Raise You a Chicken Marsala (Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie)”

  1. Mary

    I do like romance and have been meaning to read this forever. It’s on my kindle. I can recommend Kristan Higgins’ books to those just dipping a toe into the romance genre.

  2. Kelly

    I’m normally not a romance fan, BUT your review makes me want to make an exception. If the cheese factor isn’t toooooo big, I think I can handle it. 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      LOL, it’s almost kind of tongue in cheek with the romance, which I appreciate. It’s like the characters are all skeptics but not in a cheesy way. Plus a cat learns how to work a stereo, which is hilarious even though I don’t love cats.

  3. lostinliterature108

    I enjoy the occasional romance novel. Hate chicken marsala. Love donuts.
    Two outta three ain’t bad.:)

  4. Ashley F

    YAY for good one’s. Boo for overly cheesy one’s. I haven’t read this one but I read a good one of her’s called “Charlie All Night” about a late night radio DJ and his producer. It involves a gay best friend/roomie and an itty bitty puppy that needs to be nursed back to health. Good times all around.

  5. Laura Lynn

    I like Jennifer Cruise. Good times, not too smarmy. If you like HOT romance writing then check out Elizabeth Essex. She’ll set it on fire. It”s hard to write good sex scenes-seriously hard to judge by all the bad ones-but she is a natural and really good storyteller.

    • Words for Worms

      Scorching sex scenes are hard to do well, it’s such a fine line between steamy and ridiculous. I might have to add her to my guilty pleasures list LOL.

  6. Cindy

    Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorites. I occasionally read romance novels, but don’t know that I really consider her books as romance. I think I’ve read almost everything she’s written. I highly recommend any of them. Bet Me is one of my favorites of hers. Maybe This Time is another. They all have strong female characters that don’t need a man to save them, although they do always get their man. 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      It’s probably not a fair classification, considering “romance” gets lumped in with Harlequin type stuff (which is fine it its own rite, but this is a different caliber.) Maybe I should just consider it contemporary chick lit… you know. The kind where I don’t want to smack the characters for being vapid *cough cough Bergdorf Blondes*

    • Words for Worms

      I couldn’t resist name dropping the Minervas. How many to you run across, really? Squishy is quite cute, in my completely biased opinion. He can’t really do anything at this point but eat, sleep, and poop, and since I don’t have to change the poopy diapers, it’s great!

  7. Andi (@estellasrevenge)

    I do tread into these waters occasionally, and Bet Me was a book I loooooved!!! It made me all swoony and girly. In fact, I like almost all of the Jennifer Crusie novel’s I’ve read, and that’s somewhere in the ballpark of, oh, 5 of them? Maybe? Fantabulous. Glad you liked this one. It was fun.

    And Squishy is totally adorbs!

    • Words for Worms

      I think I’ll probably read more of her stuff- she’s a treat! Almost as enjoyable as new baby smell. No. Not really. New baby smell is the best. 🙂

  8. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    I want donuts every day anyway. This book could completely throw me over the top into deep-fried dough territory!

    I don’t mind a little romance, as long as it’s fairly realistic and isn’t the main plot point. I do enjoy a nice lighthearted romp of a book now and then. This could fit the bill!

    Oh Squishy! You are a doll face!!

    • Words for Worms

      I’ve managed to resist donuts since reading this, but I went out and got chicken marsala right away. I hope it doesn’t throw you over the deep fried dough edge, but really. What a tasty way to go… 🙂

  9. Samantha

    I think I will be adding this one to my to-be-read list! I’ve read ‘Crazy for You’ by Jennifer Crusie, and I remember enjoying it as well.

  10. JoulesDellinger

    Aww, I loved this book and I think I’ve read it maybe 4 times? I’ve actually read everything by Jennifer Crusie because I’m a sap for the not-too-sweet-romance. =)

      • JoulesDellinger

        Try “Leaving Unknown” by Kerry Riechs.I just read it for the second time recently and still really, really liked it.

  11. justJen

    I generally hate romances, and books that sneak gratuitous sex scenes in (once I picked up a book whose blurb promised a family drama surrounding the son’s life altering injury. It veered off into graphic descriptions of the guilt-ridden dads’ homosexual affair.) Just ’cause it’s you recommending it, I’ll put aside the eye roll and try it 🙂

  12. Jenny

    Rahhhhhh, I am so jealous of you to have a nephew! I want a nephew or niece VERY VERY MUCH but none of my siblings have so far obliged. I do sometimes read some romance novels, but usually historical ones because I like thinking about how lucky it is to live now and not have to worry about whether the ladies at Almack’s would give you the nod.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh heavens. This is my first BIOLOGICAL nephew, but I’ve been Aunting it up to my friends’ kids for years! It’s a whole lot of wonderful :). (I like historical fiction for the same reasons. I’m like… ELECTRICITY! HOT WATER! I AM SO LUCKY!)

  13. Sarah @ Sarah Says Read

    Squeeeeee I’m so happy you liked Bet Me!!! It’s SUCH a fun book. I love Min’s slow journey to accepting herself for who she is and I LOVE all the smouldering looks and flirty times. Also, almost every time I re-read this I end up going to get a chocolate dip donut from Tim Horton’s 🙂 Aaaaand all your twitter chatter about Bet Me food ended up in me getting stuffed chicken marsala at Olive Garden. Soooo yummy, although I bet Emilio’s is better!

    • Words for Worms

      Emilio’s is most assuredly better, but since it’s fictional, we’re gonna have to take our chicken marsala where we can get it! I am really glad I decided to take your advice, Sarah. Such fun! 🙂

  14. Sarah Says Read

    OH and what a cutie nephew! Squishy seems appropriate 🙂 It’s been 2 years and my mom is still calling my nephew Chunkie… although his real name is Jariel which is just terrible, so…. yeah. Poor kid just can’t catch a break there.

    • Words for Worms

      Awww Chunkie! Squishy’s real name is Nathan, and I can’t argue with that one. Poor kid. Nice solid name like Nathan and Aunt Katie is gonna call him “Squishy” for the rest of his life. I’m going to write it on his wedding card. It’ll say “Squishy and Bride of Squishy.”

  15. Turn the Page Reviews

    oooh- new baby smell….love it! Great nickname too. I think I read this a few years ago- hence the reason I started to blog-can’t actually remember if I did! Great review- I am trying to starve myself in prep for a beach vaca and need to keep my head in reality too.
    And yes to the romance! One look from Mr. Darcy and I swoon!

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