Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (2004)

As I mentioned in my October 18 blog post (read it here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-1bq ), I recently checked out a small stack of romance novels after listening to a podcast about the genre. The novel Bet Me was one of those recommended.

Bet Me is a contemporary romance novel that follows a few short weeks in the life of Minerva Dobbs, a self-described “chubby girl” who has been unlucky in love, something her friends attribute to her risk-averse nature and her mother attributes to her refusal to stop eating carbs. As the story opens, Minerva is being dumped by a mediocre boyfriend and is outraged that she dedicated so much time and attention to man who — it is now clear — thought very little of her.

When she tells her two closest friends of her humiliating break-up, they immediately urge her to throw caution to the wind and approach the man standing across the crowded bar and ask him on a date. That man, Calvin Morrisey, is a rich, gorgeous man with a dubious reputation for dating and dumping lots and lots of women.

While the women are betting Min that she doesn’t have the guts to approach Cal, Cal’s friends are simultaneously urging him to pick up (and try to sleep with) frumpy, cold Minerva. So the suave heart-breaker and the frigid ball-breaker leave the bar together, and over the course of their first dinner together find a spark between them that neither expected.

Curious by his pursuit of her but determined to keep her distance from his charms, Minerva decides to play along with Cal’s seductions. This is mainly (she tells herself) so that she will have a date for her sister’s wedding. Meanwhile, Cal finds himself pleasantly surprised to be challenged by Min’s brains and her seeming disinterest in his attentions and finds that he just cannot leave her alone.

As the novel progresses, Cal and Min don’t give the bet that brought them together too much thought…they are too busy falling in love. Their ups and downs largely the result of their fear of allowing themselves to be vulnerable with one other. After all, Min assumes, Cal will just break her heart like he has countless others, women she believes to be far prettier, thinner and more desirable than her. Cal, for his part, has covered up some deep self-esteem issues with causal relationships and finds that Min is breaking down those walls.

The end result as a fast-paced, up-beat, funny romance novel about a unlikely bet igniting a steamy romance. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

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