The more romance novels I read the more ridiculous the plots get, and the more I actually think I should stop reading them. I didn’t mean to this time, but I had one of those rare moments where I didn’t have a new book to read right away and just reached for the latest thing from my mom/sister (same book collection). I liked the other two Jennifer Crusie romance novels I read just fine — especially Bet Me for the Chicken Marsala recipe, which I made very well one time and sort of okay a second time — but Faking It just didn’t do it for me. AND it had BAD SEX in it — what kind of romance novel is that?!
Matilda Goodnight’s family has been in the art world for many, many years. They currently run a small, slightly run-down gallery in Ohio, but they’ve been protecting a deep dark family secret that’s getting harder and harder to keep: they are forgers and fakers. They forge famous works of art by famous artists — Van Gogh, Monet — AND they create art under fake artist names, particularly (fake) father and daughter Homer and Scarlet Hodge. Matilda is actually Scarlet Hodge, and she has spent the better part of her life trying not to be found out, but suddenly way too many new people take an interest in their little Ohio gallery.
Davy Dempsey is a con man, trained by his father Michael. Davy comes to Ohio in pursuit of a woman who scorned him and stole all his (conned) money, Clea, only to fall immediately in lust with Matilda. Clea has sunk her perfectly polished claws into a local art collector, Mason Phipps, but Mason only has eyes for Matilda’s mom, Gwen, and the gallery itself. (Gwen couldn’t hate the gallery more if she tried, and her deadpan sense of humor and one-liners are probably the only redeeming qualities of the book.) With Clea comes Ronald, a fellow con man and frenemy to Davy, and with Davy comes Simon, another fellow con man who falls for Matilda’s sister Eve’s alter ego Louise (yea, confused yet?). Throw in Eve’s daughter Nadine, Eve’s gay ex-husband Andrew, Nadine’s best friend Ethan, someone named Jeff whose role I canNOT remember, Thomas the Caterer/FBI agent and Ford Brown the hit man, and you’ve got quite a cast of characters all focused on one thing: the Scarlet Hodge paintings.
While Davy and Matilda work together to get the fake Scarlet Hodge paintings back under the safety of the Goodnight roof, Clea attempts to buy all the paintings to impress Mason and Gwen tries to keep everyone alive and out of jail. Luckily the deep dark Goodnight family secret ends up being not as big a deal as Matilda thought, the true “bad guy” is revealed and everyone lives happily ever after, including Davy and Matilda. They even fix the bad sex problem — thank goodness, because that was tough to read.