27 August 2013

The Big Bad Wolf Tells All

Synopsis: In this fast-paced, sexy romp from Donna Kauffman, a woman who’s a self-avowed lone wolf – with a trail of broken hearts behind her – finds herself face-to-face with love…

Tanzy Harrington is the Bay Area’s most-read romance columnist and self-proclaimed love-‘em-and-leave-‘em artist – and she’s not quite ready to tie herself down to one man. That is, until Riley Parrish lands on the scene.

When Tanzy agrees to house-sit for her eccentric great-aunt, she finds herself sharing close quarters with Riley. At first he seems a bit too much like the “sheep” Tanzy derides in her column – too polite, the classic boring good provider. But when she catches a glimpse of the “wolf” lurking in his eyes, the ultimate alpha female is about to take a fall…

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Bantam Dell, a Division of Random House, Inc., 2004; 409 pages; I don’t remember when, where or how I got this book!

My thoughts: It took me a little bit to get into this book. Right off the bat we meet not only our heroine, Tanzy, but her whole group of zany friends, which for me was confusing and too much at one time.

Tanzy writes a very popular romance column wherein she amusingly spouts her opinions and compares men to wolves or sheep. It’s her latest theory, that men all fall into one or the other category. Women date wolves, but marry sheep, and she does not understand the attraction to the sheep and is trying to figure it out. I personally thought it was kind of a dumb theory, and I think that’s part of what made it hard for me to get vested in the story too quickly.

When her great-aunt Millicent needs to go out of town just before the Christmas holidays, she asks Tanzy to house sit for her. All the staff will be on vacation, except her new personal assistant, Riley. Tanzy can write her column from anywhere she has computer access, so she grudgingly packs a bag and moves into her aunt’s huge home.

Tanzy is a serial dater, proclaiming to the world that women think about sex just as much as men, and as long as a woman uses safety precautions, there’s nothing wrong with her having a healthy sex life. And she practices what she preaches. Love? No, thank you. She’s not interested in that, or marriage or kids. And she is very unimpressed with Riley, noting that when he shakes her hand at their first meeting his grip is limp. That’s how she describes it. He’s a dull, boring sheep and she avoids dinner with him in her aunt’s kitchen every night by eating in her room while she works.

Tanzy has been getting emails from an obsessed fan who goes by the name SoulM8. She’s had crazy fans before, but this one is starting to worry her a little. Not enough to do anything about it though or let it interfere with her life and her fun. Besides, she now has something new on her mind. For some odd reason, she finds herself intrigued by the resident Riley sheep, and even wondering what it would be like to kiss him. What the heck is wrong with her?

Riley of course is not who or what she thinks he is. He’s got a job to do, and is determined to be professional and detached while maintaining a low profile.

There’s a lot going on in this book, but the best parts of the book are when the huge cast of supporting characters fade into the background and we’re with just Tanzy and Riley, watching them get to know each other. I loved the banter between them, with many exchanges that made me not just smile, but grin or even laugh out loud.

Finding out who SoulM8 is becomes a large plot point, and while I certainly didn’t figure out the stalker’s identity, I did figure out more than either Riley or Tanzy did long before they did, which was disappointing and made the big reveal a bit of a let down for me. When SoulM8 finally made a personal appearance, our hero and heroine were both shocked to their cores, while I was asking them how they could be so stupid.

But the journey to that point was fun and well worth my time.

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