What The Lady Wants, by Jennifer Crusie

>> Monday, April 17, 2006

book coverJennifer Crusie's old category books gave some very clear indications that this wasn't going to be just another run-of-the-mill Harlequin author, that there was something special and different about her. What The Lady Wants looks like a regular Harlequin Temptations (it's a shame I haven't been able to find a picture of the original cover online... it's a doozy, with a heroine whose clothes make her look like a refugee from the 80s and hero who looks like there's absolutely nothing going on inside his head), but inside, it's special.

She was dangerous--in more ways than one!

Mitch Peatwick KNEW he wasn't cut out to be a private eye. Photographing cheating husbands and tailing cheating wives left him cynical about love. He wanted to quit... until gorgeous Mae Sullivan strolled into his office. The brunette had a lethal body, an even more lethal set of relatives--but a case Mitch couldn't refuse.

Mae wanted Mitch to find her uncle's killer and the missing family fortune. She wanted a man she could trust--not like the other men in her life. She wanted someone to... well, love her just a little.

The lady wanted HIM, Mitch soon deducted. What the hell did he do about THAT... never mind those lethal relatives?
WTLW isn't really one of my favourite Crusie's; not even one of my favourites among her category titles, but it's still really good. A B.

The story pokes fun at those old PI stories, complete with femmes fatales and burnt-out detectives. Only Mitch Peatwick isn't really a burnt-out detective, but a broker who's made a bet that he'll be able to make a certain amount of money if he opens a detective agency for a year. It's been a disappointing year, full of boring divorce cases, but he's nearly there, and the beautiful femme fatale who's just come into his office with a strange story about her uncle having been murdered will put Mitch in the black.

The femme fatale isn't really a femme fatale, but Mae Belle Sullivan, dressed to kill to try and get the dumbest PI possible. She wants some inept, empty-headed big guy to start asking questions, so that the person who took her uncle's diary will get nervous and return it, allowing her to find out what the hell happened to all her uncle's money. But Mitch isn't as dumb as she assumed he was (if he looked anything like the guy on the original cover, I don't blame Mae for her assumption), and his investigation doesn't exactly go as Mae hoped.

This is romantic comedy at its best. It's funny as hell, with a cast of unforgettable characters who are really well-rounded and don't feel at all like caricatures, and hilarious scene after hilarious scene. And it's also romantic and hot, with two protagonists who have some wonderful chemistry between them and whose love story I totally bought. The comedy doesn't take any heart out of the romance. Rather, it makes it even better.

As it's probably obvious given that the cover above is new, WTLW has been reissued, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. If you didn't catch her category books when they originally came out, you should definitely pick them up now!

Edited to add: Courtesy of the wonderful Beverly and Malvina, the original cover of WTLW! Thank you both!


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