Trust Me on This by Jennifer Crusie
(Loveswept 843, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-553-44558-8
****
I got on the Jenny Crusie bandwagon late in life. I didn't hear about her until the enormously popular Anyone But You took the contemporary romance scene by storm. That story convinced me to find all of her previously published Harlequin categories and read to my heart's content. I was happily enjoying her work when I found myself in a corner like a kid with a dunce cap on her head. What was the offense, you ask? I wasn't bowled over by The Cinderella Deal. Knowing that this was her second book with Loveswept made me wonder about Trust Me on This.

Well, call me nine kinds of a fool. By page 30 I was having to squelch my laughter. They frown on raucous laughter in a doctor's waiting area. But you won't be frowning. You may be trying to memorize some of this laugh-aloud dialog and biting wit to use in your own conversations. You'll probably be the life of the party.

This screwball comedy is lighthearted and just plain fun to read. Reporter Dennie Banks wants to interview a well-known feminist writer whose divorce will soon be common knowledge. Dennie hopes to be the first to interview her, thus assuring that her career will be headed toward the big leagues. With this in mind, she's going to be attending a Literature Conference, hopefully to get the interview. She's entering a new phase of her life, armed with a take-charge attitude.

What she definitely hasn't counted on is that the writer will consider Dennie's request as harassment and threaten to have her arrested. This is not an auspicious beginning for her new take-charge attitude. But Dennie does what Crusie heroines do best. They adapt. And they do it with humor. And style. You've got to love a woman who wears a smashing red dress with purple underwear.

Alec Prentice and his aunt Victoria are also attending the conference. Alec, who works with his mentor, Harry, on creating and updating the Federal Fraud Database, is going at his aunt's request, but has his own agenda. Alec thinks that the odds are great that a con artist he's been after will be at the conference, preying on the writers and professors who'll be attending. Alec is also looking to catch the con artist's accomplice, a woman Alec fantasizes as a foxy brunette.

Well, Dennie, a brunette, is immediately hit-on by the con artist when she enters the hotel. She brushes him off, but is unaware that Alec has seen the exchange and suspects that Dennie is the brunette accomplice. Now his fantasies really take off. He's attracted to a crook, he thinks.

So our story is off and running. Dennie is trying to get a story, Alec is trying to get a crook and these two are funny whether they're at cross purposes or working together. No matter what they're doing, there's an aura of humor that hangs over them.

Aunt Victoria and Alec's mentor, Harry, are two of the best secondary characters I've ever met, bar none. At sixty-two and fifty-eight, they're not geriatric patients yet, but it is so refreshing to read about an older couple who don't consider themselves to be old. Their budding romance is worth the price of admission in itself.

I have only one complaint about Trust Me on This, and it's personal. Remember that I'm human and have subjective opinions. If reading anything less than positive about this book will raise your hackles, then skip the parts between the **. But if you're stalwart, continue reading. **I live by a personal credo that's simple. We make time for what's important to us. When I read a romance and find that the heroine has put her relationship on hold while she pursues her career or schooling or whatever, I don't like it one bit. I feel like I'm being cheated. It's as though she doesn't consider him important. Isn't that what romances are all about, the growing relationship between the two lead characters? I almost groaned when I realized what Dennie was planning to do. Put Alex on hold for a while. And she did. Therefore, my joy in this book, while certainly not taking a nosedive, did slightly dip. **

Buy two copies of Trust Me on This. Put one in a hermetically sealed container and place it in your safety deposit box. Retrieve it twenty years from now, sell it for an astronomically obscene amount of money and go on an around-the- world trip. Or put your kids through college. Take the other copy and get ready to start laughing. Jenny Crusie had done it again. No wonder she's so popular. Her talent shines through. How lucky for us.

--Linda Mowery


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