St Martin’s Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-98015-9
Contemporary Romance, 2002 (Reissue)
Jennifer Crusie’s Fast Women is great. It is also a rather gloomy book. I mean, maybe it’s because this author has been a romance author in a former life, but her cynical and really gritty look at romance, sugarcoated over one-liners, make me feel sad for the author. Maybe it’s unfair, but really, has the industry caused her to be this jaded?
Not that jaded isn’t good. Fast Women isn’t as funny as the author’s previous books, and it’s even more acerbic in a nasty way, but I like it a lot. Maybe it’s because the heroine Nell Dysart gives as good as the hero Gabe McKenna. She’s the new secretary at his PI office. But before you go “Yay! Harlequin Blaze-o-rama I want!” be warned that these two and the assorted philandering, miserable secondary characters make a beautiful picture of love in ten thousand shades of Prozac. You’ve been warned not to cancel the Harlequin subscription just yet.
Nell comes a family of sad women who marry Dysart men with devastating results. Nell is still bruised from a bad marriage – hey, every chick lit heroines need to have a “personality”, you know, so why not a bad marriage? That way, she can whine her way all to three-dimensionality. Gabe has issues too, specifically with a zodiac/horoscope kook ex-wife who wants him to shag up with Nell. Completing the assortment of gloomy Van Houtens are sisters with miserable lives and their equally miserable men.
I’m not giving away the story because part of my enjoyment is reading about the whole musical chairs of these miserably married/involved people. Love is adultery made beautiful and guilt-free, according to this author, and sex is a good way to get back at all the horrid Grade F men and women in your past. And all in good laugh and humor, really. And I don’t think I want to give away too many details that may spoil other readers’ enjoyment out there.
See? Fast Women must be Jennifer Crusie’s baptism of fire, her ultimate exorcism of all those stupid, superficial nonsense she is forced to write for rigid category romances. Now that the royalty check is fatter and there is an ocean of cynical, jaded people out there clamoring for more, this author is really letting the world rip.