The Big Bad Wolf Tells All
by Donna Kauffman, contemporary (2003)
Bantam, $10.95, ISBN 0-553-38222-5

If we want to go into semantics, Donna Kauffman's The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is actually more of a typical romance novel rather than the chick-lit book the publisher is marketing this book as. Then again, publishers nowadays will market any book featuring a heroine in the city as "chick-lit" in order to cash in on the current fad of chick-litt(er)ing everything on the shelves. Still, no matter what it is, chick-lit, romance, or money-grub lit, The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is a cute read high on fun but low on plot.

Tanzy Harrington is a columnist. (Of course, if they're not columnists, they're junior copywriters at fashion or social magazines.) Her column for MainLine is generating a buzz all over San Francisco because apparently that place doesn't get Sex In The City on cable. No, I'm kidding, but to be honest, I'm hard pressed to imagine why Tanzy's formulaic ramblings about women wanting uncomplicated "Wolf sex" instead of staid and dull "Sheep sex" is getting everybody talking. "Wolf" is of course a bad boy while the "Sheep" is the dull, often patronizing prim and proper men. And mind you, this is San Francisco we're talking about. There is probably a thousand bitchy gay men that can do better job than Tanzy in writing bitchy columns about relationships.

There's a weirdo, SoulM8, that is stalking her online. Bad taste, SoulM8 - why stalk Tanzy when it's cooler to stalk Cintra Wilson? Anyway, when Tanzy goes to her great-aunt Milicent's home during Christmas, she meets "Sheep" Riley Parrish. Unknown to her, Riley is an ex-footballer-turned-PI hired by Greataunt Milicent to look after her. Chemistry ignites and sparks fly, the usual.

The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is noticeably more subdued in humor even for an American chick-lit novel, and despite Tanzy's hip-city-girl pretensions, there's an optimism about love and relationships that is rare in the chick-lit genre. Still, it's all semantics. A good story will be a good story, whatever its genre may be, and in this case, well, the book is pretty funny and the main characters have a bouncy and sexy chemistry that the author really succeeds in putting to good use. I enjoy reading and chuckling aloud to Riley and Tanzy's love story. However, I'm less impressed with how the SoulM8 subplot is forgotten for the most of the story until near the end when the author needs some excitement to close her story. Even then, this denouement feels rushed and tacked on.

All in all, The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is a cute and fun read that seems to suggest that maybe Donna Kauffman has found her true niche writing fun contemporaries. I enjoy this book way more than the author's last few paranormal romances. At any rate, the author has to be commended for sticking to what she does best instead of trying too hard to create a new style for the new genre she is writing for. Compared to the likes of Leslie Carroll and Jill Winters, the chick-lit genre can do a lot worse than welcoming Donna Kauffman to the new bandwagon.

Rating: 84

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