Charlie All Night, by Jennifer Crusie

>> Friday, May 27, 2005

I've been meaning to reread Jennifer Crusie's old categories for a while. I started with one of my faves, Charlie All Night.

Dumped by her boyfriend and demoted from WBBB's prime-time spot, radio producer Allie McGuffey has nowhere to go but up. She plans to make her comeback by turning temporary DJ Charlie Tenniel into a household name. And if he's willing to help her cure her breakup blues with a rebound fling, that's an added bonus.
Charlie just wants to kick back, play good tunes and eat Chinese food. He's not interested in becoming famous. But he is interested in Allie. And after all, what harm in a little chemistry between friends?

But suddenly their one-night stand has become a four-week addiction. Night after night on the airwaves, his voice seduces her. . .and all the other women in town. He's a hit. It looks as if Charlie's solved all Allie's problems. . .except one. What is she going to do when he leaves?
It was just as much fun as I remembered. A B+.

This is a 1996 book, but Crusie's voice was just as individual then as it is now. It's a category without gimmicks or only-in-a-romance-novel plot contrivances; just two likeable protagonists, a fun, well rounded cast of secondary characters, an interesting setting and great humour, but with a more serious core.

The romance was lovely. Plenty of heat, and Crusie managed not to loose any sexual tension even when she had Allie and Charlie fall into bed right off the bat. But what I loved best was the development of their relationship out of bed, the way they bantered their way into real intimacy.

The only moment when they lost me a bit was with their bet about who could stay away from the other the longest. I thought that was the only place in which Crusie came close to a contrivance... it just didn't ring true to me, it didn't feel like something these people would do, even if it did work as a way for them to see if they had a relationship away from sex.

The cast of secondary characters was relatively plentiful for such a short book, but it never made the story feel crowded. And they were all very individual, not at all stereotypical, even those that were drawn with only a few words.

I really liked the story's setting, a small town radio station. I have no idea of how a real one would work, so I don't really know how accurate this is, but I do know it was fun :-)

The book ends with something surprisingly serious, something that I wouldn't have guess could work so well in such a funny book. But it does, and it gives this very light story a bit of weight. Still, in the end, this was a feel-good book, one of those you end with a smile on your face.


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