Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anyone but You by Jennifer Cruise

I was interested in this book because of the basset hound on the cover.  I get dog fever around this time of the year.  Something about the holidays make me think of puppies.  I always assumed I'd grow up and have a dog.  I never wanted a husband, I never wanted kids, but I always wanted a dog.  But I grew up, sort of, and realized that I'm entirely too irresponsible to have a dog.  I'm never home, I'm tight with my money (as in I'd pass out and die if I had to fork over some major, unexpected pet-related medical expenses) and I lack the ability to show affection toward living things.  So yeah, no dog for me.

But back in the day when I wanted a dog, I wanted a basset hound because I think they are adorable, and so even now, long after I've realized I can't have a dog, I am still drawn to basset hounds.  

I read the description of the book and thought it sounded cute.  Not the sort of book I would usually read.  But not every book I read has to be dark and deep and serious, right?  I later realized this is even part of a Harlequin romance series.  I've not read a Harlequin romance since I was in high school and used to take them from my mother.

Day before the end of the year, I had read 34 books and wanted to get that up to 35.  So I took this book to bed with me and I read the entire thing in one sitting.  Finished it early this morning.

As far as romances go, this was pretty good.  A 40 year old, newly-divorced woman moves from her mansion to a small apartment and she decides to get a dog.  She wants a perky puppy, but while at the pound, she instead is drawn to a sad, depressed basset hound who only has a day left before he's put down.  She takes Fred instead of a puppy.  And it's Fred, who Nina trains to use the fire escape to go out, who accidentally walks into her downstairs neighbor's apartment.  The downstairs neighbor is Alex, a 30-year-old ER doctor.

Nina is beginning a new life on her own.  She married her first boyfriend and for sixteen years, she stood by him as he built up his career as a successful and wealthy attorney.  Alex is just getting started with his career, as his family of doctors tries to pressure him into choosing a more distinguished speciality than ER.  Though they are both hesitant to admit it, they seem to be exactly what each other needs.

I actually really liked this story.  I liked the characters, they seemed real and they seemed like nice people.  The story didn't make me cringe like most "romances" tend to do.  I liked that it wasn't the typical broken-hearted, lonely woman seeking a big, successful man to sweep off her feet.  Nina could take care of herself and she was okay with Alex being a little immature and goofy.  She liked the company of a nice guy, she didn't need someone to take care of her.

Maybe it's because I'm closer to 40 than I am 30 and I like the idea that a nice, attractive younger man would find a 40 year old woman attractive.  In real life it seems the only men who notice a woman my age now are the creepy old guys who don't have enough money to attract the 20 year olds.  Let's just say I'm glad I'm no longer involved in the whole dating scene because it's not pleasant for women my age.  It's settle or be single.  So even though this book may not have been realistic, it still made me happy to read this story because it's nice to think the possibility is there.

Alex isn't just a nice guy, he's also not one of those guys needing a wife to "settle down" and cook and clean and have babies.  That seemed to be the only option out there when I was younger.  Never met any guys who wanted to do fun things like travel and watch old movies or attend concerts and sporting events.  No, the nice guys just wanted to get married, buy a house and have a couple of kids - boring!  And the other guys, well they just wanted, you know...

Okay, so the book is a fantasy, but not the typical romantic fantasy.  It's more of a fantasy for women like me.  I guess that was what I found surprising about the story.  These types of stories rarely appeal to me.

I had a few minor issues with the story - one being that I thought it took way too long for Nina and Alex to get together.  He's in her apartment every night watching TV, she's lying on the couch behind him while he's sitting on the floor, they both want each other, and no one makes a move?  This goes on for weeks!  Then once they got together, there was a bit of weirdness, Alex became something of a jerk for a while.  But maybe that's normal?  Not all that experienced with relationships.  But all of that was brief and resolved rather quickly.

Overall I liked the book.  Kind of nice to read something that isn't as heavy as what I usually read.   I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance novels and wants a quick, light read.

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