Thursday, February 24, 2011

REVIEW & DISCUSSION: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

C This book is the February selection for the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club, representing letter C.

Bet Me is a fun, sweet, romantic story about two people who come together over a bet and end up taking their chances on true love. Although, in the end, you can be assured their happily ever after is a sure thing.

Min Dobbs has just been dumped by her boyfriend David in a bar. She's crushed and angry. It's not like she was in love with the guy, but she was working on it. He seemed to have all the right credentials to be 'the one,' after all. Now she's left without a date for her sister's upcoming wedding, which wouldn't normally bother her, but she'll never hear the end of it from her over-controlling mother.

Calvin Morrissey is a charmer and a heart breaker who has a reputation for dating a girl until she falls for him and then promptly breaking it off. Cal is at the same bar as Min when she has just been dumped. He's out with his friends and business partners, trying to avoid his most recent ex.

Min's friends encourage her to get over David asap by approaching a good looking guy in the bar and introducing herself. She and her friends single out Cal. As Min crosses the bar, she overhears David making a bet with Cal that he couldn't get the girl in the boring gray suit to sleep with him within a month. She realizes David means her and is obviously furious, but decides to play along just to burn David and maybe have a date for her sister's wedding in a couple of weeks to boot!

Min and Cal leave the bar together and grab a bite to eat at Emilio's Restaurant which turns out to be fabulous. The food, that is. The date, not so much. Min and Cal clash and bicker over everything! Yet there's this underlining current between them like gravity pulling them together. Yes, their conversation is prickly, but aside from the whole bet thing, they're honest and comfortable with each other to just be themselves. They part ways both happy to never see each other again--Min giving up on the wedding date idea and Cal thinking 'good riddance' to the woman who's taking out her anger against her ex-boyfriend on ALL men! Only it doesn't work out that way and Min and Cal continue to cross paths, slowly getting to know each other, quickly falling in love although of course, they don't want to admit it.

Bet Me is so much fun to read. It's fast paced, charming, funny, sweet, romantic, loaded with great dialogue and full of little surprises. The cast of secondary characters and all of the connecting side stories are entertaining and add a lot of drama and warmth to Min and Cal's love story. There are misunderstandings galore over the bet--make that bets, that will keep you laughing and guessing until the very end exactly how it will all work out.

If you haven't yet read Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, what are you waiting for? I bet you'll just love it!

WARNING: This discussion and the comments below are a SPOILER ZONE! If you have not yet read Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie you have been warned that there are SPOILERS AHEAD. Read at your own risk.

This is my first time hosting the book discussion for the monthly Authors By the Book book club and Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie was my selection. If we were a book club that met offline, we surely would have had to met at a little Italian restaurant where we could chat about Min and Cal and the supporting cast of characters over Chicken Marsala, don't you think? ;)

Bet Me is a cute, light hearted romance. The characters and story is engaging yet my questions are quite simple.

Feel free to answer some or all of the questions on your own blog or here in the comments, You can also just Feel free to pose your own questions to the group in the comments or share what you didn't like about the book, too!

1. What did you think of 'the bet'? Do you think Min should have just asked Cal about it or do you think she was right in waiting for him to reveal it himself?

I thought the misunderstandings over 'the bet' were great. It kept things unsettled throughout nearly the entire book with both Min and Cal keeping what they knew about the bet to themselves instead of being honest about it. I mostly wanted Min to just ask Cal about the bet, but I completely understood that she wanted him to be the one to bring it up. It was her way of protecting herself from disappointment if the truth was that he really was just dating her for the bet. And even then, how would she have known if what he said was the truth if she did ask him. He could easily lie to her and still win the bet, right? The answer is that the only way she would believe him would be to trust him. Something that was difficult for both Min and Cal to do for a while. Thank goodness they straightened it all out and finally figured out to take that leap to trust and love each other regardless of that stupid bet. And how fun was that??? :)

2. What is your favorite scene in the book?

I have many, but here are a few of my favorites:

Every time Min and Cal kissed. I know it's sappy, but I can't help it. It's the romantic in me that felt all "awwww..." every time, because each and every time Min and Cal kissed it was unexpected, sweet and romantic. Every kiss was like a perfect first kiss and I loved how they both felt surprised at how strongly they felt for each other.

Another favorite scene is when Min, Bonnie and Liza are having dinner at Min's apartment and Liza tells Min that Cal is trouble and Bonnie tells Min that she thinks he's 'the one.' Liza and Bonnie had completely opposite views on Cal and I loved how convincing and determined Bonnie was when she stood up for believing in true love. She has some really great lines in that scene. [pp. 169-172 in the hardcover edition].

I also loved the very end of the last chapter [before the Epilogue] when Min and Cal discuss whether they'll actually live "happily ever after" once they're married.

3. Who is your least favorite character and why?

While I thought David was pretty much a jerk, I didn't think so highly of Cynthie either, although by the end I did feel sorry for her. My least favorite character, though, has got to be Min's mother, Nanette. Her obsession with controlling Min's diet and putting so my emphasis on her figure as an indicator of her happiness in life was crazy! At first, I thought Nanette just wanted to help Min fit into her maid of honor dress, but soon enough I figured out that she was just shallow and mean to reduce Min's self esteem, the last thing a mother would want to do to their child! Ugh. Although Min often told her mom to get over it, she was born with curves, end of story, it wasn't until Min's sister Diana finally told off Nanette that I finally cheered.

4. Who is (are) your favorite secondary character(s) and why?

I think the cast of secondary characters in this book is awesome. Cal's friends Roger and Tony, Cal's nephew Henry, Shanna, Min's friends Bonnie and Liza, and her sister Diana are all favorites. Everyone comes across very realistic and I enjoyed all the little side stories that were going on. Maybe Bonnie is my absolute favorite of that bunch. She had such a great attitude and despite her sometimes too-rosy view of life, she had some really great insights for her friends.

5. Do you believe in the fairy tale ending of finding true love and living happily ever after?

I imagine most of you do, otherwise you wouldn't be reading a book like Bet Me! :)

I believe in true love and living happily ever after, but it's dynamic-- constantly evolving and moving forward over time without the 'the end' part. There are ups and downs, give and take, hard parts and easy parts, but you stick together and love each other through it all and that's what living happily ever after is all about.

At very nearly the end of the book, Min says she's worried about what comes after the fairy tale ending:

"--but I'm worried. There aren't any happily ever after stories. That's where it ends. Where the hard part starts."
"All right," Cal said. "So?"
"So," Min said, meeting his eyes. "What are we going to do?"
"We're going to take it one day at a time," Cal said, holding on to her. "I don't know anything about this, either, I didn't plan for this, but I think we just stick together. Take care of each other. Pat each other on the back when things get tight." When she still looked unsure, he smiled at her with so much love in his eyes that she went dizzy, and then he said, "Bet you ten bucks we make it."



  1. 1. What did you think of 'the bet'? Do you think Min should have just asked Cal about it or do you think she was right in waiting for him to reveal it himself?

    You know the first half the book I wanted to throttle Cal! He kept saying he didn't make the bet but he did---even if it was because he thought David would forget. I did find it funny that Min though it was for $10 instead of $10000. That was pretty funny.

    2. What is your favorite scene in the book?

    My favorite scene in the book (and there are tons of them) are the girl dinners. I love the friendship between all the women in this book. They truly have the got your back attitude down pat!

    3. Who is your least favorite character and why?

    I would love to say Min's mum but really different generation/different attitudes sometimes you just accept people for who they are and I don't think she was being hateful to be hateful (though I did want to throttle her)! Actually my least favorite was David because he never really wanted Min but he didn't want Cal to win. Greedy driven people annoy me.

    4. Who is (are) your favorite secondary character(s) and why?

    Henry! I thought he was just the perfect hilarity needed in this mix of mixed up adults!

    5. Do you believe in the fairy tale ending of finding true love and living happily ever after?

    I haven't found it but I do believe in it. I don't think it can happen without that belief :)

  2. Hi Felicia!
    So you think Cal really made the bet? I agree that David and Cal walked away thinking differently about what was agreed upon, but I don't believe Cal made the bet. He certainly made the $10 bet for the pick up, but not the $10K to get her in bed.

    Min, Bonnie and Liza were definitely great friends. Their 'If Dinners' are such a great idea!

    You're right about David. He was a greedy jerk.

    Henry was adorable! I liked the way he and Min bonded.

    Believe in the true love happy ending!!!! :)

  3. I liked how throughout the book a little voice in both Min and Cal would say something. "This one" or something like that. It reinforced the GET TOGETHER ALREADY!! mindset I had. Heh.

  4. YES! I loved those little voices in their heads, too! Always reinforcing what they were feeling but just couldn't admit!

    Readers are so smart. We could have had those two together by Chapter three! Of course, it wouldn't have been as much fun that way... ^_^

  5. Yes, plus we wouldn't get to read about all the food. I was constantly craving Chicken Marsala for A MONTH after reading this book.

  6. Janicu, that was one of my favorite things too. I love the dialog in most Crusie books, and this one might be the best. Hard to decide whether what was best -- the girl talk or the Min/Cal banter. There was a lot less of it, but the guy-talk between Cal and his buddies was also hilarious.

    Favorite scene(s) were when they stuck up for each other at the respective family dinners.

    I marked this one as a place where I laughed out loud, where Bonnie is talking about taking Roger to meet her parents:

    Min raised her eyebrows. "you think he'll cross three states to meet your mother after two weeks?"

    "He would cross the Andes to get her a toothpick," Liza said.

    I actually kind of enjoyed David's character arc. I mean, he didn't turn into a prince or anything, but he kind of met his match with Cynthie and I wanted them to end up together (they deserved each other)

    I think overall what I liked most about this particular romance is that we really got to see the characters develop a friendship before they had mad crazy sex. It's not that I'm against mad crazy sex (heh), but the friendship was very sweetly done.

    As a re-read, I have to say that the fat thing got tedious for me, and Nanette was too much of a caricature.

  7. Ha ha! Hilcia warned me that I was going to want to get out my recipe for Chicken Marsala. :o

    Nicola, the dialogue is really great in this novel. The banter between Min and Cal was fantastic right from the beginning... even when they first met and they weren't hitting it off, they were completely at ease and natural with each other. Even if you didn't know this story was a romance, you could tell they had this tug between them. It was so much fun watching the tug throughout the whole story.

    I love Bonnie and Roger together and how confident they were about tying the knot!

    I sort of expected David and Cynthie to get together, too. Until I realized how much she still wasn't over Cal.. then I guess it made sense that she needed time and space to get over him.

    It was nice seeing Min and Cal develop a friendship and affection for each other before having sex, wasn't it? I liked that, too. :)

    Nanette's character was definitely a bit over the top for me. Her constant badgering of Min's diet started to feel unrealistic to me. Would a mother of a 33 year old really be like that? I would hope not. Besides. Min is described as curvy. Not fat, not skinny... curvy. Nanette needed a serious chill pill. I'm glad Diana finally gave it to her!

  8. 1. I think Cal made the first bet, but not seriously. And I think the secondary bet he blew off. David pushed the issue and Cal could see that David was a putz and didn't want anything to do with the bet.

    2. It's hard to pick a favorite scene, but I have to say one of them is the scene with the doughnuts on the picnic table. It showcased how both were interested and already half in love with the other, as well as in lust. *g*
    Also I adored the family dinner scenes, especially the one where Min stands up to Cal's family. LOVE that.

    3. My least favorite character has to be David. Not only was he a jerk, he was a mean hearted jerk. Second least liked would be Min's mother. She was so focused on looks she forgot that her daughter was a person in her own right who had feelings.

    4. My favorite secondary character has to be Henry, that kid was too precious. I just wanted to cuddle him.

    5. I absolutely believe in the fairy tale ending of finding true love. However, how you treat that love and whether it grows stronger or weaker depends o the effort put into it. True love exists, I know it does. I found mine. *g* One thing we need to realize is that everyones fairy tale ending isn't the same. Marriage isn't required, but a strong bond is.

    I've never joined a book discussion before. Hope I did okay. Crusie writes the absolute best books. Bet Me is one of the best of the best. Faking it is another and my favorite is Fast Women.

  9. I loved this book the first time I read, so sexy, so funny, and I have read it MANY times. I have also starting eating the Chicken Marsalla at every Italian restaurant I have been to. I have also tried to make it, but like Mini, I just haven't been able to do it right :)I recommend this book to everyone!

  10. You picked a great book for February! I loved it! Here is a link to my post of the questions:

  11. Would these gals be interested in joining the book club :) the more the merrier!

    I've copied the ?'s, I have a boat load of stuff going on the next few days, so I might be late getting back on, but thank you Christine, I'm enjoying this and hope you are too!

    The new book is up on my blog :)

    Have a great wkend

    Tomes Devotee

  12. teena, I can see why Bet Me is a favorite of yours! What a great read. I don't often reread books, but I can definitely see myself rereading this one.

    I love chicken marsala, too! :)

    Julie, I'm SO glad you loved Bet Me, too! Our answers are very similar. To this book and last months. I guess we have very similar tastes!

    I'm looking forward to reading your pick next month!

    Paula, I'll be looking for your opinion on Bet Me! I had fun hosting this month's discussion. :)

  13. Anyone is welcome to join the Author's by the Alphabet Book Club!

    Participants take turns picking a book each month, choosing books by authors' last names.

    Of course, you are encouraged to participate every month, but we all know that sometimes life gets in the way of our reading plans, so if you have to miss once in a while, no worries.

    Want to join? Visit the sign up post on Paula's blog HERE.

    March's book is The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas chosen by Julie.

  14. Brandy, I just noticed I overlooked responding to your comment! So sorry!

    I still stand by Cal in that he never actually agree to the bet. The $10 pick up, yes.. but never to the $10K getting Min in bed one.

    The doughnut scene at the park is one of my favorites, too. What a romantic first (and second and third) kiss, right? The family dinner scenes were awesome, too.

    David was a jerk. I don't believe he ever wanted Min back, but just didn't want anyone else to have her either.

    Henry was pretty darned cute. And so insightful for a little dude!

    Totally agree with your comments on the happily ever after ending of finding true love. The happily ever after part is a lifelong process.

    Of course you did a great job at participating in the book club chat!!! I'm so glad you did. :)

    I have Faking It! I may even have Fast Women. I can't wait to read more Crusie. :)

  15. Christine, I'm so glad you loved the book.

    I don't actually think that Cal agreed to the bet. But I didn't think that Min was going to just ask Cal about it or accept his answer. Trust was needed first.

    My favorite scene(s) in the book were any and all scenes where Cal became enthralled by Min's shoes! I just found it sooo sexy. ;P

    Least favorite character was Min's mother. She personified those family members/friends who SAY they want what is best for a person they love (and in some instances actually mean well), but who instead destroy that person's self-confidence and self-esteem. The mother was a bit two-dimensional, however I've personally met people like her. I just wish Min had been the one to set her straight.

    My favorite secondary characters are the friend(s) (his and hers). It was a wonderful crew! I loved the dynamics when they all got together. The dialogue, banter, and how they looked out for each other.

    I love, love the quote you selected. Cal had all his ducks in a row. This whole book just worked for me. :D

  16. *SIGH* I want to read this all over again after reading your great review!

  17. Glad to know I did okay. If you have Fast Women, the first two paragraphs have to be my absolute favorites of almost any book I've ever read. It's filled with humor and yet it immediately draws you into the two main characters. Plus, again, there's the humor. *G*

  18. So glad you enjoyed it, Christine :) I meant to read it and didn't make it ^_^; Ah well.

  19. 1.What did you think of 'the bet'? Do you think Min should have just asked Cal about it or do you think she was right in waiting for him to reveal it himself?
    Of course the bet was stupid! And yes she should have just asked Cal about it. Unfortunately that’s a mistake we tend to make is skirt or hint and not just come out and ask.
    2.What is your favorite scene in the book?
    I think when he told her how beautiful she was and that she needed to accept that about herself instead of constantly seeing a fat girl. Letting herself go and allowing herself to be sexy. That was so intuitive of him and really sweet.
    3. Who is your least favorite character and why?
    It had to be Min’s mother Nannette, to be so dam frigid and obsessive to the point of not being happy. Min nailed it when she said go home and throw away your fashion mags.
    4. Who is (are) your favorite secondary character(s) and why?
    Both of their friends were just great!

    I loved each of them what super characters, I bet everyone wishes for friends like that. Each one had such different personalities, yet they were loving and cared for each other.
    5. Do you believe in the fairy tale ending of finding true love and living happily ever after?
    Yup, I sure do!

    I had a fave quote, when Liza told Bonnie do you want bullet head? I just hadda laugh!

    It's funny how we thought the same on the secondary characters and Min's Mom!! And yes, you're right, he really didn't bet David. I thought Cyn and David would hook up too! I was actually surprised to see Tony with Diana. While I didn't think he and Liza would have gotten together, I think that would have went a bit overboard, those 2 I didn't see. This was such a good book Christine, thanks for picking it!

    Here's my review and q-n-a -

    Bet Me

  20. For some reason the link isn't going all the way through so here's the direct one -



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