I was having a hard week with lots of tiring work going on so when I saw a post about this book by calico_reaction on livejournal, I was sold on a guaranteed HEA. Sometimes, I neeed a well-written book with a happy ending to get through life.
This is total romance by the way. When I saw the cover, I thought – chick-lit. I think its the font, plus the shoes and no other real "romance-y" cover hints, but this is a contemporary romance. It has romantic elements to it – the hero and heroine meet each other early on, most of the book is about their growing relationship, they both sort of fight it (uselessly, us readers know they are meant to be), and something keeps them from reallly getting together until the very end. Not that this was a formulaic story - the romance was done in a fun way. Also – I think there was a good splash of chick-lit influence – humor, girl with a job in the city with good girlfriends and nice shoes.
The title is about betting and that is something that plays a big part in the plot. The very first time Min meets Cal she overhears what sounds like a bet that he can "bed" her within a month. The jerk trying to make this bet is her ex-boyfriend who dumped her earlier that evening for not having sex with him. While Min isn't an obvious beauty and her mother often chides her for not being a size four (something that I wish was addressed in a more serious way than it was eventually), Cal on the other hand is considered to be gorgeous and godlike (Crusie gives him some traits later on that prove he is human though). So Min doesn't expect a relationship and just decides to give him a miserable time when he asks her out to dinner. After a bad date where Min rolls her eyes and berates Cal for anything he says that sounds like a line, they both part ways expecting that to be that. Except that no matter what they do they keep finding themselves together again. I think the author was having fun with hinting that the fates were putting these two together. When either of them says "I'm never seeing — again" they keep getting into painful accidents, and they both go to a movie to avoid each other and find themselves sitting next to the other when the lights come up. Min avoids Cal to stop him from winning the bet she thinks he made and Cal avoids Min because she doesn't seem to like him. Meanwhile Cal and Min's ex's are watching them get closer, know about "the bet" and plan to keep them apart.
My favorite things –
1. The ensemble cast. Quirky, well-drawn characters that I liked and weren't cookie-cutter who also had their own lives outside of Cal and Min that were interesting and didn't take away from the main plot either.
2. One liners – really amusing one liners that sometimes made me snort.
3. The food. Lots of talk about chicken marsala and Krispy Kreme donuts.
4. I actually liked the scientific breakdown of relationships that Cal's ex keeps explaining to everyone. It was amusing how her list of stages that a relationship goes through was sort of mirrored in the story, though not quite the way she explains it should happen.
5. The chicklit-y elements.
Wasn't in love with –
1. The talk about the heroine's weight. I think to an extent it's great not to have a beautiful perfect Mary Sue of a heroine, but eh, I'm tired of books where it's brought up repeatedly. OK this book wasn't that annoying about it, mostly because I thought that Min doesn't feel sorry for herself and wasn't really obsessed with a diet, but she came close.
2. It could be me, but close to the end it felt like there was one scene too many. The right-before-the-finale bit felt a little longish.
General Feeling: 9 (Loved it), Plot: 7.5 (Really liked it) Writing Style: 8 (Really liked it). I recommend this highly as a pick-me-up.