Now this is my kind of romance novel! It even inspired me to — get ready for a real shock, people — cook! (More on that later.)
Bet Me is actually quite similar to She’s All That, the whole I-bet-you-can’t-date-that-loser-girl theme, but with grownups instead of grownup actors playing teenagers. Minn, short for Minerva (goddess alert!), is a boring actuary who has a boring apartment with boring furniture and boring relationships with boring guys. She is supposedly/according to her mom not very skinny, but from what I could tell she’s probably, like, a size 8 or something completely normal.
One of the boring guys (David) has just ended their relationship because she wouldn’t sleep with him after two months, and on the night of the breakup he bets a very handsome well-known womanizer (Cal) that he can’t get Minn to sleep with him in one month. Or that he can’t get Minn to leave the bar with him and go out to dinner. (They all get very confused about who bet whom what.) So if you are a RomCom expert such as myself, you can kind of guess what happens from there. “A bet? Am I a f*cking bet?!” Oh wait that’s She’s All That. Anyway, although predictable and at times repetitive, Bet Me is an adorable story with some hot hot HOT scenes.
I feel like I’ve said this before, but what I love about books like this, and books in general, is how good some writers are at describing how much the two main characters love/want each other. In this case it’s more about the want, and there are some very naughty bits involving donuts. I mean, what warm-blooded human being doesn’t enjoy when someone they love/want is thinking/acting upon such wonderfully sexy thoughts!?
About the cooking: One of the main characters in the book is chicken Marsala. No, I am not joking. Minn and Cal have some at an Italian restaurant on their first date and it’s the best thing she’s ever tasted. She wants to make it herself, but her first attempt sucks, but then Cal (sexily) helps her and then it’s so so good. The whole time I was reading this I was getting a serious craving for chicken Marsala, so like Minn I attempted to make it myself. The only things I’d successfully made up to that point were omelets, egg sandwiches, (somewhat dry) chicken cutlets and pasta, so it was a risk to say the least, but I used Ms. Crusie’s recipe directly from the book and I must say it turned out great! The chicken was juicy and the right color, and the sauce was properly reduced. I REDUCED something!
So if you are a romance novel skeptic like I was/still sort of am, I would take my sister‘s wise advice and start with Jennifer Crusie and this book in particular.
Next up: Time to read something serious again, I guess: Room by Emma Donoghue. I’m not sure what I’m getting myself into.