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    Anna Campbell’s review of WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jennifer Crusie
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  • Published: Mar 13th, 2009

anna_head.jpgI know I say it every month, especially when I’m talking about an older book because I’m really choosing the best of the best there, but this is a GREAT BOOK!

Jenny Crusie has one of the best voices in the business. You know you’re in Crusie World the minute you pick up one of her stories. She’s inimitable. The qualities I’d list as citizens of Crusie World includes snarky humor, complex plotting, compelling secondary characters, a great dog (usually of the bitzer variety), a sexy hero who doesn’t really fall into the standard romance hero type, a complicated, nervy, intelligent heroine, a story made of disparate elements that somehow twine together to create a wonderful whole, snarky humor…

Other Crusie-isms? Long sentences. Here, for example, is the first paragraph of WTT:

Sophia Dempsey didn’t like Temptation, even before the Garveys smashed into her ’86 Civic, broke her sister’s sunglasses , and confirmed all her worst suspicions about people from small towns who drove beige Cadillacs.

cruise_temptation.jpgYou wait until you read the love scenes – talk about waiting to exhale. It’s a stylistic quirk that works beautifully and lets JC develop the rhythm of her humor. I’m not sure I’d recommend the technique to wannabe writers but in the hands of a master like Jenny Crusie, reading each sentence is like hearing a Beethoven symphony. Long, complex, beautiful, packed with emotional punch, and with a huge bang at the end. Ahem, I’m not JUST talking about the love scenes here!

Something I really love about a Crusie book is that she takes an unapoletically feminist slant on romance. These are definitely modern people with a modern view of relationships—the women wonder if they need a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Her women are difficult and complicated and smart and carry reams of baggage. And her heroes either have to lump it or like it! Needless to say, they end up liking it to the benefit of their long-term happiness.

OK, enough of the intro! I don’t want to say too much about the plot of WELCOME TO TEMPTATION because one of the loveliest aspects is how the story ends up snaking in every direction like the vines growing over my back fence (I’ve just done some gardening so you’ll have to put up with the horticultural imagery!). Yet throughout the shenanigans, every element, no matter how minor, is there for an important reason and the whole comes together like a jigsaw puzzle at the end.

So just a teaser about the plot. Sophie Dempsey and her sister Amy, descendants of a long line of grifters and conmen, arrive in the Ohio town of Temptation to make a video that may or not be naughty. They eventually become the focus of the town’s interest, both hostile and friendly. In the case of local mayor Phineas T. Tucker and the local police chief Wes Mazur, VERY friendly. And here I come to my favorite part of WELCOME TO TEMPTATION. Yes, like every other book I’ve reviewed for RNTV, WTT has a great hero. You’ll fall in love with Phin, trust me!

Actually I’m pretty sure I’m talking to the converted here. Most romance readers I talk to have read WELCOME TO TEMPTATION and are just as enthusiastic about it as I am. But on the offchance you’ve never picked it up, it’s a huge treat and you’re in for some sparkling fun in the backwoods of Ohio!

22 Responses to “Anna Campbell’s review of WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jennifer Crusie”

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  1. pidute
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 3:07 am

    I don’t think i have EVER laugh so much reading a book .
    To say this book is good ,it’s like saying chocolate is nice !

  2. Stacy ~
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 5:20 am

    I’ve only read a few JC books, but this was not one of them. “Taking Care of Bradley” ad “Charlie All Night” I did like. There was a third one, and in the book, the heroine’s hair turns green. Can’t remember the name of it.

    I do think I need to read this one. Awesome review Anna!

  3. PJ
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 5:23 am

    Wonderful review, Anna! You’ve masterfully captured the essence of a Crusie story. Welcome to Temptation is one of my favorites. I think it may be time for another re-read. 🙂

  4. Joy
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 6:42 am

    Welcome to Temptation was the first Crusie book that I read. I liked it so much that I immediately found all other books she’d written and grabbed those as well. It’s a great book.

  5. Andrea
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 7:22 am

    As always, great review, Anna! I’m probably in the minority as I’ve never read a Jennifer Crusie book. Is this part of a series or would this one be a good place to start?

  6. Kati
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 7:52 am

    Ah, Anna. Another perfect review! I’m not a total devotee of Jennie Cruisie, but I love her web persona. She’s one of those wonderful authors (like La Nora) who just says exactly what’s on her mind. But sometimes I read her book and feel like I’m not getting the joke. But I know she’s marvelously popular, so it’s me, not her.

    I do have two favorite Cruisies though: Anyone But You (older heroine/younger hero) or Bet Me (plus sized heroine and a scene with Krispy Kreme donuts that isn’t to be missed!).

    She does have one of the most distinctive voices in romance though, I’ll totally agree with that.

  7. Buffie
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 8:07 am

    Hey there Anna!!! Great review!!

    Andrea and I are SOOOO much alike — it is just darn funny! I too have never read a Jennifer Cruise book. I’ve heard some great things about her, but just never picked up one of the books. Guess I need to change that, huh?

  8. Maria Lokken
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 8:20 am

    JC definitely has a web persona – it’s her straight forwardness and sense of humor I really enjoy – on line and in her books.

  9. Marisa
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 9:05 am

    Anna, I always take your recommendations to heart. I started Welcome to Temptation a few years back. And I could never finish it. BUT, I still have it on the shelf, I could never part with it. I always told myself I’d pick it up and finish it one day. I guess the day has come. I don’t remember why I never finished it – and yet I’ve had many books like that in my life as a reader. Sometimes I’m just not in the right place to read a particular book and then bam – 2 months or 2 years later I pick the book up again and I think and I love it and wonder why I didn’t finish it before. So, I’m going to give it another go. Thanks!

  10. Laura
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 9:20 am

    Hi Anna,
    I have to completely agree with you. I first discovered JC last summer. I read every book that my local library had of hers, and then scoured the book stores for more. The first book I read was Bet Me. I LOVED it. She made my slightly over-weight self feel pretty sexy, and I wanted to run out and by Krispy Kremes as soon as I finished it. Welcome to Temptation was one of the books I read last summer, and it was a breath of fresh air to read. Her writing style is uniquely her own, and a nice change from the norm.

  11. Laura
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 9:22 am

    Start with Bet Me. You won’t regret it.

  12. Megan
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 12:42 pm


    Jennifer Crusie is one of my all-time favourite authors! I reread Welcome to Temptation and Faking It about once a year for the laughs! I’m glad you chose it!

    Oh and Laura… I agree… Bet Me is the best!

  13. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 12:52 pm

    Ha, ha, Pidute, that’s a great way to put it! So glad you’re another fan!

    Stacy, those are her earlier Harlequins that they republished. They’re huge fun and show her trademark humor but for me, one of her great strengths is complexity of plotting which she didn’t get much chance to show off in those shorter stories, charming as they are. And she writes the greatest secondary characters, again something a shorter story restricts. Give this one a go – or as a few other people have suggested, Bet me, which I love and which I nearly chose as my Crusie review.

  14. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 12:54 pm

    PJ, so glad you enjoyed the review. Thank you! I didn’t want to give too much away of the plot because I remember the first time I read it just being in awe of how those twists and turns of the story came together. It was such fun to read it again!

    Hey, Joy, fantastic WTT was your gateway into Crusie. It was for me too. There’s nobody like her, is there?

  15. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 12:58 pm

    Andrea, thanks for saying you enjoyed the review. There’s a sequel to Welcome to Temptation called Faking It that’s great fun and I think I’d probably recommend reading WTT before you read FI. But you can read WTT without having read any of her earlier stuff. As a few other people have said, Bet Me is a great read too. One of the things I adored about Bet Me (apart from the woman-shaped heroine!) is that it’s probably more purely a romance than a lot of other Crusie books. WTT has lots of subplots and while the romance is the central thread, there’s lots of other stuff going on.

    Kati, one of the things I love about Crusie is that her smart, snarky, spiky voice tends to go against what people who don’t read romance think romance is about. You know, sap and sop and hearts and flowers – although obviously we know better! I love Anyone But You – I think that’s my favorite Crusie Dog!

  16. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 1:00 pm

    Buffie, thanks for checking out the review (by the way, great HOTM!). There’s been some great Crusie recommendations here. Definitely give her a go! I think you’ll take to Phin! 😉

    Maria, I think JC has a great web persona too. And she’s not afraid to say what she thinks which I admire enormously!

  17. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 1:03 pm

    Marisa, I tried a couple of Crusies before WTT and I think I had your problem – wrong book for where I was at the time. I must say I’ve been hooked since I read WTT. The odd thing is I was going through a terrible time in my personal life (my father had just passed away) when I read this the first time but somehow the snarky humor and all the shenanigans in Temptation kept me utterly captivated.

    Laura, great to meet another fan! The Krispy Kremes scene in Bet Me is great, isn’t it?

  18. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 13th, 2009
    @ 1:07 pm

    Megan, sounds like I’d better re-read Bet Me! I remember just loving it and that central relationship with Mr. Gorgeous and the plus-size heroine. LOVE stories like that (hmm, I wonder why! Snort!). I must say WTT is the only one I’ve re-read from start to finish a couple of times, even before I did this review. I’m such a sucker for Phin. He’s my favorite Crusie hero, I think because he completely confounds expectations. And that scene on the dock is AMAZING!!!!

  19. orannia
    on Mar 14th, 2009
    @ 7:40 pm

    Thank you Anna for a lovely review! This is one Jennifer Cruise I haven’t read yet. I started with Bet Me, which is still my favourite. I just remember laughing my way though the whole book and finishing it feeling happy. I obviously need to add Welcome to Tempation to the TBR list 🙂

  20. Christine Wells
    on Mar 14th, 2009
    @ 9:51 pm

    Anna, wonderful review! Welcome to Temptation is probably up in the top five of my all-time favourite romances. The scene on the dock has rarely been equalled, IMO. I hope Crusie brings back those Dempseys some time.

  21. Vanessa
    on Mar 14th, 2009
    @ 11:23 pm

    Fabulous review of a fabulous book, Anna! This was the first JC book I ever read. After that, I got my hands on everything she has ever written. I just adore her special blend of romance, comedy and mystery.

    ~ Vanessa

  22. Anna Campbell
    on Mar 15th, 2009
    @ 1:11 am

    Orannia, definitely try Welcome to Temptation. There’s a lovely building relationship with the hero and heroine that reminds me of how she develops the relationship in Bet Me, which as I said is also one of my faves.

    Christine! Nice to see you mooching over from the Bandits to say hello. Another fan of the scene on the dock! Mamma mia!

    Vanessa, lovely to see you too! I know you’re a huge JC fan – you lent me all the reissued Harlequin ones and I remember giggling my way through Getting Rid of Bradley and co. She is a one-off, isn’t she?

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