Title: Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of Publication: 2004
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit
Rating: 3 1/2 Crowns
Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes, and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.
But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all-true love.
Bet Me is the first Jennifer Crusie book I've read and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The story is told in multiple viewpoints which I was not expecting and there is quite a cast of supporting characters. Min is a very down to earth character. She does obsess about her weight a lot and she enjoys food and fashionable shoes. I do wish that she hadn't had such a low self image. It would have been nice if she had listened to her friends and realized her true worth and beauty without needing to hear it from Cal. Still, this makes her a believable woman because unfortunately that is something many women struggle with. It is good to see her bloom though and her personality definitely shines.
When I read the description of this book, I wasn't sure that I would like Cal. Like Min's first impression, I thought I'd hate his character and find the romance unbelievable. Thankfully, Cal proved to be a decent guy (there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding that "bet") or the story wouldn't have worked. I liked that Min and Cal's relationship develops gradually. At first Cal sees Min as an uptight and boring woman who is bitter towards men and Min thinks of Cal as a player who agreed to that horrid bet. It is nice to see their attitudes about each other change. I also liked how protective their friends were.
The supporting characters were entertaining but I do wish that the book was only written from Min and Cal's points of view. At times the book felt a little overcrowded with personality because of this. There is quite a bit of humor and food descriptions that made me crave donuts and chicken marsala. There are some deeper moments too. The issues of family expectations, self esteem issues for both Min and Cal, and the idea of taking risks vs. playing it safe were handled nicely without overwhelming the lighthearted tone. Bet Me is the kind of story that would appeal to both readers of contemporary romance and chick lit. I would suggest it to fans of Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Strohmeyer, and Meg Cabot's chick lit novels. Overall I thought this was a fun romance with a predictable plot but enjoyable just the same.
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