FAKING IT
Jennifer Crusie

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St. Martins, April 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Tilda Goodnight has built a name for herself as artist Matilda Veronica, recreating Grand Masters artwork and adding her own whimsical canine trademark.  Her career is jeopardized when her sixteen-year-old niece, Nadine, sells an old painting Tilda once forged -- posing as the fictitious artist Scarlet Hodge. The sale of this fraudulent artwork threatens to expose the crooked dealings of her late father, art dealer Tony Goodnight, and ruin the reputation of the Goodnight Gallery. When the buyer, Clea Lewis, refuses to let the gallery buy back the painting, Tilda comes up with a zany plan to steal the artwork. Tilda's attempt at burglary is foiled when she comes face to face with another thief, and they both find themselves hiding in the same bedroom closet. 

Con man Davy Dempsey is on a mission to recover the three million dollars his former girlfriend, Clea Lewis, and his financial advisor, Rabbit Abbott, embezzled from him. The money was to finance his foray into legitimate business, but he is caught snooping in Clea's bedroom by Tilda. Their unsuccessful burglary attempt leads Davy and Tilda to reluctantly team up. But burglary isn't the only thing they fumble when these two quirky people fall in love.

Ms. Crusie is one of the funniest voices in romantic comedy. The Goodnight family is edgy and ultramodern, starting with Gwen Goodnight, the depressed, Double-Crostic obsessed mother of the clan. Eve, Tilda's older sister, has a sex-kitten multiple personality named Louise. Nadine is a sixteen-going-on-thirty-six year old. Eve's gay ex-husband Ethan and his lover Jeff round out this cast of characters. This wacky group gives new meaning to the term dysfunctional family. Davy Dempsey's smooth, con man character was first introduced in a previous novel, WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, which featured the infamous Dempsey family grifters.

I love romantic comedies but the characters in FAKING IT, while funny, didn't win me over. They lacked individual voices and the snappy humor overlapped from one character personality to the next without distinction. The romantic relationship between Davy and Tilda never rang true for me. It was punctuated with a little too much bickering, comedic bickering but bickering all the same. Ms. Crusie's appeal is her laugh-out-loud dialogue, but in this novel it wasn't enough to make up for the kind of character development that makes you fall in love with the hero and heroine.
 

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