One of my goals for 2022 has been to go back to some of my old romance favourites and see if they’re still good after I’ve read more than a handful other romance novels. Crusie is known for writing punchy dialogue, ridiculous plots, and unabashedly feminist heroines. Ten years after publication (it was published in 2000, which was 10 years ago, fight me) it mostly still holds up.
Plot: Sophie Dempsey comes from a family of crooks, but she’s worked hard to be the one Dempsey that actually follows the law. This is made very difficult by the chaotic neutral energy of her siblings, which is how she ends up in a car accident in the middle of nowhere while driving 5 miles an hour trying to surreptitiously (i.e. without a permit) record b-roll for a documentary her sister wants to put together about a porn star to break out of their wedding video business. News of these troublemakers, and their plans to remain in town for a few days to film what everyone is convinced will surely be porn reaches city council and (reluctant, third generation) Mayor Phin Tucker. Shenanigans ensue.
There are a bunch of things I appreciated about this book that I didn’t the first time I read it, since I have now been balls deep in government work for a few years. The expression Crusie mentions “Legislate in haste, repent at leisure” is a common refrain in my office and it was really refreshing to see the legislative process, and city council meetings reflected with any sort of accuracy. There is a Waiting for Godot-esque comedy to the democratic process that she captures remarkably well. Too well, maybe.
The dialogue is also just as sharp as I remember. It’s a subtle sort of humor that forces actual, audible laughter out of me every time – a rare accomplishment for most written media.
On the whole, I don’t think this is her strongest book. The characters felt a little too cartoony and it made it hard to connect with them. *Attempted murder* got resolved with a sort of hand wave and a promise not to do it again. If you cut out the explicit stuff, and I guess the porn sub plot, this would be an amazing Animaniacs episode.