I absolutely love this book from beginning to the end. I am so ashamed that I came late to the Jennifer Crusie party, but better late than never.
Always, always in a Jennifer Crusie book is the humor. If you're in a terrible mood, read Crusie and I guarantee you'll laugh out loud at least once! For instance in Welcome To Temptation, as Sophie and Amy Dempsey ride into the town of Temptation, they spot the water tower (and how could you not see THAT!).
"The flesh-colored, bullet-shaped tower thrust through the trees at the
top of the hill, so aggressively phallic that Sophie forgot to fidget with
her rings as she stared at it." (4)
The image of that "big hard-on of a water tower" introducing a very conservative, small town like Temptation was hilarious, and I just knew I had to find out how and why and what. The water tower undergoes a transformation from phallic to resembling a nipple later in the book, and honestly the tower was almost another character in this book.
And then there's all those wonderful movie quotes worked into the story. Where else can I get two quotes from two of my favorite movies all in one book?
“You men are all alike. Seven or eight quick ones and you’re off with
the boys.” (Young Frankenstein) (178) This is Sophie's response to
Phin saying he has to meet another woman after several rounds of
hot sex with Sophie.
“This isn’t the junior chamber of commerce, Brad.” (Rocky Horror
Picture Show) (377) This is said as Sophie and Amy take seats for the
Council meeting from hell.
Or how Sophie explains why she's dating her former therapist because it was "a relief [...] not to have to explain the family to him."
Besides the humor are all if the unforgettable, funny, real characters in this book. The ensemble cast was chock full of quirky, odd, uptight, funny, wonderful people. Even the ones I didn't like so much (I'm looking at you, Liz) were three-dimensional and unique.
Look at Sophie, for example. She's the daughter of a con man who's on the lam for a fraud charge. She knows how to charm a mark, and she's not afraid to use those grifter's rules. (Make the mark smile. Get the mark to agree with you. Make the mark feel superior. Give the mark something. Get what you want and get out.) (7-8) But she uses the grifter's code usually to protect her sister and brother. Sophie is a takes care of other people, and despite being from a family of thousands of cheats, liars, and con men, she is honest. She is smart, she is competent, she is loyal to her brother and sister sometimes to the detriment of her own happiness. When she's nervous she quotes from movies which lead to some really funny running jokes by Phin about her "literacy". Sophie has always been own the outside looking in, not part of a charmed circle and has a healthy distrust of town boys - those boys/men who have money, education, part of high social circles, men of privileged upbringing. So it is ironical that when she meets Phineas Tucker, mayor of Temptation, there are more sparks between these two than generated by a Tesla Power Tower.
Phin reminds Sophie of her rather disastrous, humiliating, short-lived relationship with a town boy in high school. But even though Phin seems to be a strait-laced, law-abiding smooth-talking small town politician, he has, uh, hidden depths. Let's just say the sex on the boat dock was one of the hottest sex scenes I have ever read. And the discussion afterward between Sophie and Phin, then Sophie and Brandon and Amy about oral sex had me laughing out loud. It's no wonder that Sophie is soon in hot pursuit of "The Phallic Variation" with Phin. (109)
Phin really never wanted to be mayor, but his father was and his grandfather before that. So it's become a family tradition. He even has the same political posters/signs from 1942 that proclaim proudly: "Tucker for Mayor. More of the same." But down deep, Phin doesn't want more of the same. And it's Sophie that clears away the brush so that he can see what is he really wants to do. There's no doubt that one of those things will be playing lots of pool. Pool is a religion for him.
Dillie, Phin's daughter, was also a terrific character. She was not one of those annoying child characters played for sympathy or to show Sophie's excellent maternal instincts. Then there's Lassie the odd-looking dog that adopts Sophie and in keeping with the Lassie tradition, this dog, too, is male.
I have to mention a bit of the murder mystery because I have never read a book in which the villain gets "killed" by so many people at once. Poor Zane. He's shot, thrown in a river, and run over twice by cars. I almost felt the overkill was to ensure he didn't rise up as an Undead later. He really was an obnoxious character, and I know the dark of humor surrounding his demise isn't for everyone, but I loved it.
Welcome To Temptation was a delight to read and has earned a place on my keeper shelf. Read this book and be assured as Sophie says that there's "nothing but good times ahead."