Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TBR Review: Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie

TBR Challenge 2012 February Theme: Recommended Read

I read my first novel by Jennifer Crusie in September 2010 thanks to Tracy who sent me a copy of Welcome to Temptation. The following month in October 2010, Nath came to visit and recommended and gifted me with Anyone But You (plus quite a few other books in Crusie's backlist). The book has been sitting in my TBR pile ever since. So, thanks to both Tracy for convincing me to read this author, and to Nath for recommending this book.

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She was beginning life fresh -- new job, new apartment. No husband. All she wanted was a puppy. A happy, perky puppy. Instead she got Fred. Part Basset, part beagle, part manic-depressive.

Nina loved Fred. Everything was great. Well, her best friend went through men like tissues and somehow Nina had to single-handedly save the company she worked for, but her life was great. Until Fred brought home Alex Moore -- poster boy for lonely women. No, no, no she yelled at her hormones and her heart. Anyone but Alex.

Still, Fred did have very good taste...
Anyone But You was first released by Harlequin in 1996 under their Love & Laughter line. I chose to read it not just because of the author, but hoping that the story would be filled would love and laughter. It was.

Nina moves to her new apartment after a divorce. She's finally happy with her life as is except that she wants a perky dog to keep her company. But when it comes down to it, instead of choosing a perky little dog to cheer herself up, falls in love with the smelly, depressed-looking Fred in a scene that immediately hooked me on this story. By next day Fred brings home drool-worthy Alex Moore, the gorgeous downstairs neighbor. Soon the attraction turns out to be mutual, and even after Nina finds out Alex is an ER doctor, she keeps reminding herself that he's just a kid.

The two become friends who share their daily concerns and well... Fred. The attraction grows but here's the main conflict between Nina and Alex, age. Nina just turned forty and Alex just turned thirty, so this romance has an older woman/younger man theme. Of course Alex doesn't care about the age difference, but to Nina this is a big deal.

This was an enjoyable read for me with the promised love and laugh out loud moments here and there. The main characters in the story are likable and fun. There are really three main characters: Nina, Alex and Fred. They are a trio, and their scenes together are the best. Oreo cookies, milk, and a special bra become part of their intimate, relationship-building moments, and a watchful Fred doesn't just bring this couple together, he becomes a witness to more than just their movie nights.
He looked at Fred.
"Pay attention. You may pick up some pointers here."
Nina moved against the pillow. "He's just a child. He shouldn't be watching."
Whether you are a dog lover or not, these scenes are there to be enjoyed. :)

Although this is a short, quick read, the romance is stretched out throughout and well developed. Nina and Alex become friends first as Alex basically woos Nina in a sideways sort of way, and Nina accepts that wooing even while telling herself that she's too old for him. I love the apartment window-hopping, Alex's miscalculations when it comes to wardrobe (loved the Daffy Duck shorts), and their movie nights together, plus once they get between the sheets there is more than sizzle between them.

There is a conflict that arises because of those age insecurities mentioned above, both Nina's and interestingly enough Alex's. Having read a few of Crusie's books now, I found it interesting that even this short, fun book touches on certain themes found in her later novels: dysfunctional and unhappy wealthy families, cold, uncaring parents (see dysfunctional families), couples that might not want a family, and a yearning for a simpler life as the ideal for happiness.

There are not too many secondary characters in this short story, but the ones that are highlighted are excellent. I particularly like Alex's brother Max and Nina's best friend Charity, both secondary characters that show personal growth throughout this short romance without taking the focus away from the main couple. Plus the upstairs senior neighbors, Norma and Rich, are a wonderful addition that contribute to the overall story.

Anyone But You is light, funny and fun, and although it is a bit dated with 1990's pop culture references, reading this contemporary romance is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Plus, if you haven't read it yet, good luck with not falling in love with Fred!

Theme: Recommended Read
February Review
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/August 1, 1996
Source: Gift from Nath
Grade: B+

Visit Jennifer Crusie here.

20 comments:

  1. Awesome review, Leslie. Describes the book and my reading experience with it perfectly. :) I thoroughly enjoyed Anyone But You and would highly recommend to friends, strangers, anyone who want a great fun book to read. Nath, as always, you recommended a great book!

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  2. This is the Crusie novel I've reread most often.

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  3. It's been a long time, but this was the first Crusie novel I read. I remember being surprised by how much I loved it. This is a good one.

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  4. I just read this one too! as always your review captures perfectly what I thought of this book. It was such a fun sweet story! This was my second Jennifer Crusie after Bet Me, which I adored. I have Welcome to Temptation in my TBR, can't wait to read it :)

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, Hils! I think you even enjoyed it more than me LOL. Ms Crusie is very good at short-length novels actually. I wished she'd write more :)

    I need to go and re-read it :) It's been a couple of years. I remember really enjoying it and LOL, but Nina did annoy me a little with her insecurity.

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  6. Nice review! I couldn't remember which one this was but I haven't read it in a few years - I remember now the boxer shorts, the bra, the dog, and feeling like there was some weird age-related tension in it. I'm not certain if it was the plot itself or if something just didn't sit right with me? Oh well, I shall have to reread and find out. Thanks!

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  7. Yikes, Hils. I'm sooooo sorry. For some reason I thought I was on Leslie's blog. My apologies!

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  8. Hey Tabs, I can see why you recommend this book to everyone, it's such fun. Nath did good! You're right, she always does. *g*

    Victoria, I might be re-reading this book myself. It's short, fun, and I'm putting it on my list of books to read when I need a lift. :D

    Phyl, your first one? I'll be remembering this one too, along with my other two favorite ones: Welcome to Temptation and Bet Me.

    Nath! Thanks again for the book. Did I enjoy it more than you? That's good then, you did good with this one. *g* I still have quite a few of the other short-length books you gave me. I'm spacing them out. LOL.

    RE: Nina's insecurity? Hmm... let's see 40 with a 30 year old? I guess being older myself, I do understand why she felt insecure about showing her not-so-young body to a younger man who usually dated younger women. I think it's a normal female reaction. :)

    Kate, this is a quick read, I'm sure if you skim it you'll remember quickly what bothered you about it. And yes, the shorts, the bra, the dog and the Oreo cookies make this book memorable. :)

    Tabs lol! No worries about the name thing... I knew who you meant. ;P

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  9. Negine! I'm answering you out of sequence. You just read this book? Isn't it fun? Oh, I can't wait to find out what you think of Welcome to Temptation. I loved that book, although I never wrote a formal review for it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :D

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  10. I think this is my favourite Crusie book of all. I love older women, younger men type and this is one of the best. I'm glad found this author with a little help from your friends :-)

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  11. Great Review!! I just love Jennifer Crusie all of her books are such fun to read!! Definitely one you can relax with!

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  12. I adored Fred and wished I had a Fred of my own after reading this one. LOL Cruise always makes me laugh and this one was no different.

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  13. KristieJ, I'm still exploring Crusie's work, but this book is going on my pile of favorites so far. I loved the theme of the book too! It was very well done. :)

    Lover of Romance, this book most certainly helped me shed all the worries of the week. It was a wonderful few hours escape. Lovely.

    Leslie, Fred! I loved him as soon as he made an appearance on the page. Crusie did a great job portraying him. I'm definitely saving the books I have in my TBR for those times when I need a lift or a laugh. :D

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  14. Is strange but I so love this book.

    Usually the young guy-older gal thing doesn't work for me, maybe because I'm personally attracted to older guys, so I rarely see the appeal of a young guy.

    LOL

    But I love this book, seriously. I love Fred and Nina and how they make a family with Alex.

    I always wondered about his brother though! I wanted to know more about him.

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  15. Alex, I'm also a fan of the older man/younger woman trope -- I like much more than this trope. However, this was really well done. So, I agree!

    And, yes! I meant to ask from fans at the end of my review if there's a book for Max and Charity. They are such great characters. Do you know? I haven't had the time to research.

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  16. I think you did enjoy it more Hils :) I read this when I was in my early 20s, so I didn't really relate with Nina. I can understand her insecurity, but it's not something I find interesting... Know what I mean? But it was still fun :)

    I really do think Ms Crusie is one of the best author to carry out the short-length novels :) Which ones do you have left?

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  17. Hey Nath! From the books you gave me, I still have Trust Me on This. Fast Women, What the Lady Wants, and Manhunting. Then from RWA, I have Maybe This Time.

    Three of those are short reads, and two are novels. I'm looking forward to reading all of them. :)

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  18. Great review! I've only read this one once but I think I have to rectify that. I can't wait for your thoughts on other Crusie novels. My favorites are Crazy For You, Bet Me, Getting Rid of Bradley. And I do like Charlie All Night. :P

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  19. Hi Hilcia,
    This was my first Crusie book and I only read it 2-3 years ago myself. It was a hit with me, too. Perfect balance of light hearted fun and serious personal and familial issues. The romance was very well done, I think.. and I SO appreciated reading a very nice romance with a heroine at age 40! Because those of us at that age KNOW romance doesn't end there!

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  20. Hey Christine!
    Oh... your first Crusie book was a good one! I really agree with you. I too appreciate a mature heroine in a romance. No, no, and no... the romance doesn't end. LOL! We know that!

    Love your comment. *G*

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