The Boyfriend of the Month Club
by Maria Geraci
(Berkley, $15, PG) ISBN 978-0-425-23650-5
***
Despite the embarrassing title, I enjoyed The Boyfriend of the Month Club, a lively and fun chick lit novel with just a touch of quirkiness. A dream date for Grace O'Bryan turns into a nightmare when dinner at an elegant restaurant with Daytona Beach's most eligible bachelor, Brandon Farrell, somehow devolves into Grace chipping a tooth on a tampon wrapper and dumping a pitcher of beer on Brandon's lap at a dingy bar.

When Grace bemoans the sad state of her love life to her three best friends at their monthly Saturday night book club, the women decide to abandon the book talk and reformat the club to discuss their dating history - and to post information on the city's men online so other women can benefit from their experience. Before long, the Boyfriend of the Month Club has grown exponentially and Grace's friend Ellen has expounded a kooky theory that uses descriptors for each guy to develop a computer-generated profile based on famous literary characters. Now the women of Daytona Beach can tell if they are dating a Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham, or Heathcliff.

Meanwhile Grace starts a tentative relationship with Joe Rosenblum, a dentist with sexy dimples and a smooth pickup line. Brandon Farrell continues to pursue Grace, despite their disastrous first encounter. Grace is also dealing with the hassle of managing the family business, a run-down tourist gift shop that features the world's largest alligator tooth, and trying to support her best friends through their own love life problems. When the club's growth threatens to get out of control, someone is going to get hurt - and Grace's promising romance could be among the victims.

The BFOMC is a quick, breezy read. I liked Grace - she wants a boyfriend but she's not desperate, and she has professional ambitions as well (even if she isn't quite sure what they are). I appreciated the way the multi-cultural backgrounds of the characters are casually woven into the novel - Grace is half Cuban, one of her suitors is Jewish - without making a big deal out of it. The interaction among Grace and her girlfriends is both humorous and poignant, and her best friend Sarah's secondary romance has arguably more zip than Grace's primary one. Grace's family store, Florida Charlie's, is almost a character in its own right, and the eight foot plastic alligator that guards the store's entrance has a lot of personality for an inanimate object.

The weakest part of the novel is actually the Boyfriend Club itself, especially the silly way that the author tries to shoehorn a literary plot into the story via the contrived Mr. Darcy/Mr. Wickham comparisons between Grace's two admirers. The book could have stood on its own as a charming romantic romp without the Club gimmick.

I have read Maria Geraci's two previous novels, Bunco Babes Tell All and Bunco Babes Gone Wild and although I can't recall many details about the plots or characters, I remember I enjoyed them as well. I imagine that BF of the Month Club will have a similar impact on my short-term memory, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun while it lasted.

--Susan Scribner


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