Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is a contemporary romance novel. I found the description of the book intriguing and different so I decided to read it. The book is about a 33-year-old woman named Minerva Dobbs. She decides to go on a date with Calvin Morrisey knowing he has made a bet about asking her out. Once she agrees to dinner, the story takes off and things change for her.
The story starts when Minerva is dumped by her boyfriend David in a bar where she ends up meeting Cal. Min overhears Cal talking about a bet which involves her. Then the plot unfolds in a witty and sweet way. Minerva is such a great character. She is not the “ideal” romance heroine; she is plain and chubby which is not common for a romance novel. The struggles of her character regarding her issues are portrayed realistically by the writer. Her struggles to feel comfortable in her skin physically and mentally evolves in an organic manner. At no point, any character evolution seems forced in the story.
The underlying theme throughout the book is body positivity. Min struggles to accept the standards of beauty set by society and her mom. In the beginning, she is constantly worrying about her eating, and trying to fit in a particular dress for her sister’s wedding. As the story progresses Cal helps her feel comfortable with herself. Cal and Min are unique characters with their wicked sense of humor and quirky personalities. Cal’s character seems typical at the beginning of the book but there is so much depth to him as the story moves ahead.
The subplot of David and Cal’s ex, who is a psychologist keep plotting to sabotage Min and Cal’s growing relationship. The theories of Cal’s ex Cyn were annoying after the first couple of times and they didn’t make sense to me. I felt that this subplot was not completely resolved as Cal never understands the whole reason behind Cyn’s pursuit of him. Even the supporting characters have distinctive voices and play a part in taking the story ahead.
The character interaction is so vivid and cool in the way it is written. The dialogues are sweet, funny, and sometimes downright sarcastic. The outlook of Min and Cal towards love is practical; Min is more of a cynic in that case. She doesn’t expect fairytales or happily ever after and is calculative about everything she does. They both share somewhat dysfunctional relationships with their families but it isn’t over the top. The author doesn’t depend on drama for the story; the conflicts that do arise are not artificial in any way. The coincidental meeting between Min and Cal are so endearing.
Bet Me is the first Jennifer Crusie book I read and I liked her writing style. It is quick-paced, with no unnecessary drama, and humorous. The romantic relationship between Min and Cal develops slowly and steadily; it is cute to see them falling in love. You can’t help but root for the characters and relate to them every now and then. The book is witty, sarcastic, and fun to read from start to finish. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t finish it fast enough.
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