Desert Isle Keeper Review


Jennifer Crusie
2000 reissue of 1993 release, Series Romance
MIRA, $5.99, 256 pages, Amazon ASIN 1551666189

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

Recently I finished reading a heart-breaking fantasy novel that left me in a blah mood and I was in dire need of a guaranteed funny read. Luckily I had one unread Crusie left in my tbr pile and it more than did the trick!

At first glance Kate Svensen is the type of woman who is easy to envy. She's 35, beautiful, has a successful career at a management consulting firm and makes oodles of money. I was all set to hate her. I should've known better. Crusie characters have insecurities and imperfections, and are often as confused about life as the rest of us. So it didn't surprise me that Kate turned out to be less than perfect and, by page 40 or so, extremely likable. Her breasts are beginning to droop, she's often bored working at her father's firm and she's terribly lonely. Kate has given up on love after breaking off three different engagements to losers who were only after her money. Despite this she still wants a husband - a successful, brainy, hardworking man whom she can build an empire with. In desperation she allows her best friend to talk her into creating a plan to snare a man and finds herself at a single's golf resort where she meets a new string of losers - and Jake.

Jake is gorgeous but he's the laziest, slowest moving, most unmotivated man Kate's ever set eyes upon. As her search for Mr. Right leads to one disaster after another her friendship with Jake begins to grow. They figure they're safe with each other because he's not her type and she's not his. Jake knows her type; he was married to a woman just like her. His first wife was a cold, calculating woman who wanted to change him into someone he wasn't. Nope, the next woman he marries is going to be very young, "dumb as a coot, and think he's God," and she's also "going to do exactly what he tells her to do and love it." He's a man who learns from his mistakes. Yeah, right!

Jake and Kate were great people to spend time with. Initially, I feared Kate was just a dull, materialistic person but she soon became human. I really enjoyed watching her metamorphose into a semi-wild woman and do all the crazy things she kept trying to talk herself out of doing. Jake was terrific from the get-go and only a teensy bit on the Neanderthal side. He'd been wounded by a woman in the past but, unlike many romance heroes, he didn't hold it against all womankind throughout the entire book. He discovered right off the bat that he liked spending time with Kate and found himself thinking about her and talking about her to anyone who would listen. This was very sweet. His easygoing personality and his genuine admiration for the heroine made for a winning combination.

This book probably isn't for someone who requires a lot of outside conflict. It's simply about two people who become friends, fall in love and then must learn to reassess their goals in life without sacrificing what is most important to them. There are also a small handful of secondary characters who help create a warm feeling of friendship without overpowering the main love story in this short book.

My only minor complaint about the book, which is not Crusie's fault, is the horrid cover. It's an icky photograph of a blond bimbo who is nearly ripping the shirt off of a wimpy looking man with a badly receding hairline. The woman looks like she's about to haul him over the counter for a quickie. These people are not Kate and Jake!

Like all of Crusie's books, Manhunting had me grinning one almost evry page. She used both physical comedy and funny dialogue in a way that was natural to her characters and never came across as silly. When I turned the last page my heart was once again happy and my spirits were lifted. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

-- Laurie Shallah

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