MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-743-6
Contemporary Romance, 2003 (Reissue)
If they can reissue dozens of books from Nora Roberts’ back catalog a year, I don’t understand why that Duncan Mill mass manufacturer doesn’t reissue Jennifer Crusie’s backlist more often. Strange Bedpersons is not one of the author’s best books, but it sure blows away many of the current batch of series novels being churned out nowadays. Basically this is the story of Tess Newhart, the kooky one, pretending to be the fiancée of her ex Nick Jamieson, the more sober one. Wacky and usually predictable hijinks ensue, all of them laced with the author’s top notch brand of comedy that has me laughing out loud.
But I don’t understand what the heroine Tess is thinking half the time. Firstly, she complains that Nick is not for her. When Nick wants her help for the purpose of making partner at his law firm, Tess, after bemoaning the fact that Nick is too career-oriented earlier on to her friend, decides to help him because in her mind, she owes him. Yes, Tess is one of those strange women that thinks she’s beholden to everybody and his or her dog. Then she reveals that she wants him to help her win the favor of the director of a school she wants to teach at. But by that time Tess has lost me. Her reasonings run all over the place – she’s obviously trying to justify her lust for Nick in all sorts of bizarre ways, and none of her justifications is working with me. She comes off like a complete mess.
I would love to see Nick fry a little, or at least let him work a little to win Tess back. Instead, it is Tess that has to make almost all the allowances and changes in their relationship, her scatterbrained reasoning for her throwing away her principles in some perverse code of gratitude and obligation completely lost on me, and Ms Crusie’s one sole concession of victory to Tess at the end seems like a bone given to a dog that has exhausted herself jumping through hoops for the audience’s amusement. Tess here is a complete pushover. The sad thing is, Nick doesn’t even have to ask – she’s already jumping through the hoops already. If Nick changes, it’s mostly all on his part.
Couple Tess’s flakey and wishy-washy personality with her friend falling for the loser friend of Nick (which sees Tess feeling sorry for the loser when the loser is almost snared by a female version of the Republican robots Tess adores), and Strange Bedpersons is more like the Triumph of the Republicans. Maybe that’s what they should do: send handsome Republican hunks to infiltrate the flakey liberal females and watch as these idiot women rush to build a missile silo in honor of Donald Rumsfield, each brick signed and sealed with True Love.
Still, for what it’s worth, this book is funny and hence makes a pleasant diversion. It doesn’t hold up to previous rereleases from this author, but at $5.99, it’s still a steal for some easy laughter and fun.