The fine people at St. Martin's Griffin continue to trot out reprints of Jennifer Crusie's earlier work. Their latest offerings are freshly re-covered editions of 2001's Fast Women and 2002's Faking It—both of which make for awesome summer reading, although I have some concerns about their updated packaging.
Fast Women is one of my all-time favorite romance novels, not least because it boasts two of the most entertaining "wronged woman seeks vengeance" scenes ever. (One involves an implied lesbian fling; the other involves the wanton destruction of fourteen "Best Ohio Insurance Agent" awards. Both are delightful.) It's the story of Nell Dystart, a 42-year-old woman who has recently lost her job, her marriage, and her self-confidence. Nell has spent the past year sleep-walking through life, but when she's hired as the receptionist for a straight-out-of-film-noir private investigator's office, things take a turn for the better... or at least the more exciting.
Faking It features several of the characters from Crusie's Welcome to Temptation. There's Davy Dempsey, a former con man, and Clea Lewis, a professional trophy wife whose husbands tend to die young. Davy is trying to go legit, but that's before he meets Tilda Goodnight, a painter with a long list of buried (well, stored in the basement, actually) secrets. Tilda and Davy have no reason to trust each other, but they join forces regardless, determined to right a very long, very strange, and very funny list of wrongs.
These titles will probably be labeled as romances, although the strong mystery storyline in Fast Women expands its potential audience beyond romance readers. Faking It is more overtly romantic, but it has plenty of crossover appeal as well—in addition to the numerous criminals featured in the story, there's forged artwork, a family history of fraud, and at least one potential hit man. Both books are perfect escapist reading: as wickedly amusing as they are smart and sexy.
However, while I am totally in favor of keeping Crusie's books on store shelves, I am less enthusiastic about the cover art featured on these particular editions. As standalone images, the covers are eye-catching and fun, but they don't really fit the books. The vintage car featured in Fast Women is a 1977 Porsche Carrera, not a... whatever that car is, and the furniture in Faking It is hand-painted wood, not a purple armchair that looks suspiciously like the one from Blue's Clues. If the cover artist* wanted to include plot elements from the books, she might have been better to go for something generic (like a typewriter for Fast Women, or an empty frame for Faking It), rather than aiming for details and getting 'em wrong.
*Mollie Smith, whom I believe is Cruise's daughter. Although I'd like to note that Crusie was clearly involved in the cover art decisions, and I have to give Ms. Smith full props for her "Nuts" Crazy For You cover, which I so wish the publisher had used.
Reviews based on publisher-provided copies.