Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Challenge: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

So back in March, Tracy, Nikki, and Holly challenged me to read Bet Me. They were horrified when I said that I didn't care all that much for Crusie, and that I hadn't read Bet Me. They contended that if I read Bet Me, I would lurrrve it.

Basically, if I read it and loved it, I would have to admit it here and shout it out to the world. Fine, but if I read it and didn't care for it, they had to stop bugging me on the Crusie thing. I think that's pretty fair, right? Holly was feeling pretty smug because Casee wasn't a Crusie fan, and she loved Bet Me (after Holly challenged her to read it, too). Paranormals aside, Casee and I have very similar taste in books, as do Holly & I, so Holly was pretty certain that I would love it, too. Nikki lent me her copy back at RT, and I finally got around to reading it this week. What did I think? Read on…

I will interject my Goodreads status updates as I review.

Almost immediately, we are introduced to Min's family – both her extended family (Bonnie and Liza) and her mom and sister. Also, her boyfriend dumps her in the first chapter. Here were my first thoughts on the family.

I hated Min's mother with the burning passion of a thousand suns. She was the worst mother ever. EVER. And yes, I realize that she's supposed to be, but I couldn't tolerate her. Not even a little bit. Getting the picture?

The bet, of course, was between Cal and Min's ex, David. David had just dumped Min, and he bets Cal that Cal can't get Min into bed within a month. Cal turns him down, but David is convinced that the bet? It. Is. On. OK. I can deal with it. But in the bar that night, we also meet Cal's friends Roger and Tony, and Cal's ex, Cynthie. (And if you don't mind my asking, what kind of a psychologist calls herself Cynthie? It has to be the silliest nickname I ever heard for what I assume is Cynthia, and just a tad unprofessional sounding.)

Here are my thoughts on the exes.

Cynthie quickly figures out that Liza is the one she needs on her side in order to break up Cal and Min and get Cal back.

So… in a nutshell: I really liked both Cal and Min, and I really liked them together. They obviously each had issues – Cal's around his father and his dyslexia and Min's around her mother and her weight. Mostly. I say mostly because the other parents were not anything to write home about either. Anyway, I liked that Cal and Min kept getting drawn together, even though they thought they didn't want to be. There were some very sweet things in the mix, like the way that Cal found Min's snowglobe, and that when they were apart, Cal was a total klutz. Also I must admit that I LOVED that Cal thought Min was sexy just as she was. And that he totally stood up for her with her mom. I also liked that he didn't find sexy at first, but grew into it. I adored the way he kept reassuring her that she was perfect as is, and wanted her to eat what she liked. Oh, and he can cook. And yes, the donut scene was very nice. Plus, I did love Min's shoeaholic tendencies. Hello! Right?

I also really liked the subtle ways that Min and her sister supported each other. Though, on a side note, I do have to say that I would never pick a dress that was awful on my maid of honor – especially when she's my sister. Just sayin. Also, I loved how Di stood up for Min at the end, and how Min supported Di when she decided to call off the wedding.

I really liked Cal and his friends. Tony and Roger were great – the perfect foil for him and Min's friends, too. Oh, and I loved how Emilio adored Min because he thought she was great for Cal and because she adored his cooking. And Cal's nephew? Harry was perfection.

OK. Onward.

Did I say that I absolutely abhorred Min's mother? Seriously. Here was my last thought on her:

Between her and the manipulative exes and Min's friend not standing by her against Cal's ex, I was screaming bloody murder as I was reading. They literally made me hate so much that I would never ever reread this, or ever enjoy it overall. Crusie's snarky humor between Cal and Min (and between the heroes and heroines of her other books) works ok, but when she transfers it over to the parents? It's just plain meanspiritedness. And I can't abide that. I certainly wouldn't choose it for a parent – and really? For her mom to never actually see the error of her ways and soften just slightly? And for her only thought as her daughter's wedding is breaking up to be that if Min ate a piece of cake that it would take weeks to take it off? Oh hell no.

I thought the misunderstanding between Min and Cal felt contrived (especially on Min's part, but Cal too). It was like Crusie needed a final conflict to tie it all up, and that didn't work for me.

I don't grade books here on this blog, but if I did? Out of 5? Bet Me gets somewhere around a 4+ for the romance between Cal and Min (if I'm allowed to take it in isolation), a -10 for the manipulative, nasty characturish parents and exes, and a 3 for the friends (it would have been a 4, but I disliked Liza). Overall, a very very generous 3-. Only for Cal.

All in all, not one I would ever choose to read again or recommend to anyone else.

Sorry, Holly, Nikki, and Tracy, but this challenge? It. Is. Over. Thank you for introducing me to Cal and Min, but did they have to bring everyone else with them? No more Crusie for me, k?


  1. Sigh.

    You make me sad. I thought for sure Cal and Min would win you over.

    I can't recommend many of Crusie's others. Although I enjoyed a few, this was her best, IMO.

    Oh well, you win some you lose some.

    But Harry? OMG. I HEART him. HEART.

  2. Sorry, chica. Without Min's mother? Maybe. Without the exes? Absolutely. But, just, ugh.

  3. I loved Bet Me the first time I read it. It was a DIK. But it did NOT hold up to a re-read. The second time around, I felt the same way you did. The side characters annoyed me so much it completely overshadowed Cal and Min. :(

    However, it'd be a shame if you quit Crusie for good. I still love several of her books, and a few of them were even better on the second read.

    Anyone But You, Welcome to Temptation, Getting Rid of Bradley (loooovve), Charlie All Night, The Cinderella Deal (amazing), and Manhunting are all great.

    If the supporting cast in Bet Me annoyed you, then avoid Crazy for You and Fast Women at all costs.

  4. I totally get it about her mom and the exes. I always thought they were meant to be over-the-top, but that doesn't mean they're easier to take. Still, I feel like Min and Cal make up for that.

    I love it when he feeds her in the park. Love.

  5. I don't agree with Jen. Although I liked some of those titles, I didn't love any of them. I did love Faking It and Crazy for You, but the secondary cast is even worse in those. It was only after I re-read them that I fell in love with them.

  6. Awww, I'm with Holly. This makes me sad although I do hear you about the secondary characters.

    I adore a lot of JC's books but I can ignore the stuff that I don't like because the stuff that I do like, I like a lot. The one book that I didn't like all that much of hers was Faking It and Strange Bedpersons. I wasn't a fan of those. The other books? Adored them!

    At least we all think Cal is one sexy ass hunk though!

  7. @JenB: This whole challenge came up because I didn't care for the other Crusie's I'd read, including Anyone But You, Welcome to Temptation, Getting Rid of Bradley (and one or two others which escape me right now). Sorry.

  8. @Rowena: At least we all think Cal is one sexy ass hunk though!


  9. @Holly: Agree about the park scene (even if I don't get the whole Krispy Kreme thing - I can still admire a great donut.)

  10. Well you din't make it into a wall banger so that's a plus, right? lol

    I'm glad you liked Min and Cal and gave them such a high rating. I think they're what made the book for me and though I hated a bunch of the other stuff I liked them so much I forgave the rest. Now I haven't re-read but assume I'll feel the same.

    Happy you read it. :) Thanks for taking us bitches on! lol

  11. Okay, you and Holly are just crazy, then. :P

    (j/k...I don't care for SEP, no matter what anybody says, so I know what it's like to just not get along with a popular author's writing)

  12. Some authors just aren't for some readers and they never will be. And I'm fine with the authors not for me, not being for me.
    But you did give it the old college try *grin*

  13. Awww, too bad you didn't enjoy this book, Lori! It's really hard not to love the same authors as everyone ^_^; but at least, you know your tastes :)

    Personally, I felt Bet Me was good... but it definitively did not wow me like the others.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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