Jennifer Crusie: Welcome to Temptation

Welcome to Temptation starts off with two cars colliding with each other; the characters bounce of each other, collide with others, who then again bounce, and in the end (almost) everyone lands in their appropriate pocket. In other words, the novel unfolds much like a game of billiard, and if you’ve ever read anything by Jennifer Crusie you will not be surprised to learn that pool billiard plays a major role here, because her novels just are clever that way.

And Welcome to Temptation is one of her best – the plot zings ahead, moves along several deft bankshots and finally is pocketed elegantly. There is host of characters all of which are credible enough to remain plausible even through the occasional spin towards caricature or satire, the writing is polished and hits the spot precisely, and the story packs quite the emotional punch. In other words, this is about as good as Romance fiction gets, is both witty and emotional, funny and moving. Jennifer Crusie is often (and, I think, rightly so) mentioned as the Romance author to recommend to people who do not read Romance fiction; and the reason most frequently cited for that is along the lines of “you don’t even notice you’re reading Romance.” Which, while not completely wrong, is still somewhat off, at least the way I see it – Jennifer Crusie’s novels (even the later ones that branch off into different genres) are deeply rooted in Romance and never pretend to be otherwise; they’re simply not what most people (those not reading Romance fiction, anyway) expect Romance to be. They are neither soppy nor clichéd, they are well written in a snappy, fast-moving language, and above all they are fiercely intelligent, juggling, in the case of Welcome to Temptation, a plot involving a dozen major and minor characters, mayoral elections, gender politics, a murder case and wall painting. And pool billiard. And there’s a dog, too. It still is fluff, of course, but does not want to be anything else, and it excellent fluff that is smart and entertaining and does not presume its readers to be stupid. In other words, it is a huge lot of fun and among the most entertaining novels I have read in 2014.

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