Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Damn Her! Annie Dean Made Me Cry!

Annie Dean - The Average Girl’s Guide to Getting Laid

Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”

During a night sharing too many pitchers of beer with friends, Ellie, the “average” girl from the title with too much back and rack, proclaims that she can write more than (as her friends tease) boring travel books. In fact, she makes a bet with them that she can write a sex book and, while still buzzed, dashes off a proposal to her editor for a book on “making pleasure readily accessible for average women, making it easier for them to find partners without stressing over rejection or commitment.” So, choosing the road (for her) not taken, the Cairo, Illinois girl whose sex life could best be summed up with “If her vibrator made coffee, she’d marry it.”, who describes sex with her ex-boyfriend as “the man didn’t even have kinks in his pubic hair,” sets off to NYC where “Two roads diverge in pursuit of wood and that has made all the difference.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Annie’s blog and was eager to hear her voice as an author, too. Well, that’s true, but I was also a bit apprehensive about reading this book because what if I didn’t like it? I’ve come to consider Annie an online friend, and I know she would want honesty from me, but what if this book sucked? First of all, I don’t read very many straight, vanilla contemporaries- they just don’t trip my trigger. And I knew that this was about an interracial couple, but what if it was all jungle fever, K-Fed stuff? That just sooo wouldn’t work for me!

Well, as it turns out, this book had me laughing, smiling, cringing in empathy, and even crying- TWICE!

Upon first meeting Ash- “Her gaze fastened on his earring. Her heart plummeted. I bet he’s gay. She wished she could remember left or right side, what meant what. No straight guy who looked this good would have any reason to give her the time of day... she was pretty sure gay guys were just more social or something. This reality relieved her of the need to be intriguing, flirtatious, and irresistible. Just as well, since she was none of those things.”

Here, she’s talking about her head-turning best friend- “It wasn’t that she didn’t love Deanna. Life wouldn’t be the same without her. But in every friendship, there was the pretty girl and the plain one... She hated beer commercials that glorified the mighty wingman. For each one, there was a fat girl wishing she could kill him with her cardboard coaster.

Back in the day, I was skinny, flat-chested and could best be described as “I don’t turn heads, but then again, I don’t turn stomachs”. Annie painfully nails the universal experiences of all us “average” girls. While I never had the gaydar questions (over 25 years ago in small town Ohio), I did get more relaxed around unattainable men (or men I wasn’t attracted to) and I think that was the main reason I ended up hitting it off with a couple of wingmen, resulting in relationships that lasted longer than those of our better looking friends! HAH! Take that, bitches! OH.. AHEM… ah… back to Ash and Ellie then, shall we?

Ellie’s new attitude is “Stop seeing every man you meet as a potential husband... Don’t gauge their long-term potential. Instead, measure their PQ -- pleasure quotient. Don’t look at his car; check out his crotch. Objectify. Every man is a mobile dildo, some better made than others”, but, as many of us discovered, relationships have a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass only AFTER you stop looking for them.

What starts out as casual and temporary with absolutely NO expectations, very slowly grows into more without any conscious effort from either Ellie or Ash. And, as a Reader, I was there every step of the way with them, smiling, laughing and getting pissed off at them when they were being asshats (the ballpark, Ellie? You were WRONG!) I CARED about what happened with these two. And that whole jungle fever thing I was worried about? Not an issue, not even a plot device. A couple of friends and family expressed their disapproval and/or concern, as would probably happen in real life, but there was no Romeo/Juliet angst.

The thing is, I’m having trouble explaining why this book is so heartwarming and enjoyable (my fault, not Annie's). There are no mysteries to solve. No blood pounding danger. There IS a family crisis, but it’s the kind that thousands of us face, and it shows us what these two are made of. There’s none of that love-at-first-sight, destined soul mates longing. Ash is not a chest thumping, possessive, uber alpha, wealthy male who lives in a penthouse- he's the assistant manager of IT for a law firm. They are simply two basically good people who meet, are attracted to each other (okay, they have the frickin‘ HOTS for each other), enjoy each other’s company (and bodies- *pant pant*), and gradually get to know and care about each other- and sometimes even piss each other off. The characters ARE the story.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Ash and Ellie could be real people we know. At it’s heart, their story is a story shared by many of us. This is the way alot of relationships form. This is how a lot of people live out their lives. They are people I could be friends with and I loved getting to know them.

Ya did good, Annie. Damn good.

Geez, the next thing I know, you’ll have me reading futuristic sci-fi fantasy! For those of you that don’t know, Annie, writing as
Ann Aguirre, has just sold a book, Grimspace: Sirantha Jax 1, to Ace, who also publishes authors like Laurell Hamilton and Patricia Biggs. She is currently writing Wanderlust: Sirantha Jax 2.
Piquant Opine: RRTE,

7 comments:

Ann(ie) said...

"
The thing is, I’m having trouble explaining why this book is so heartwarming and enjoyable (my fault, not Annie's). There are no mysteries to solve. No blood pounding danger. There IS a family crisis, but it’s the kind that thousands of us face, and it shows us what these two are made of. There’s none of that love-at-first-sight, destined soul mates longing. Ash is not a chest thumping, possessive, uber alpha, wealthy male who lives in a penthouse- he's the assistant manager of IT for a law firm. They are simply two basically good people who meet, are attracted to each other (okay, they have the frickin‘ HOTS for each other), enjoy each other’s company (and bodies- *pant pant*), and gradually get to know and care about each other- and sometimes even piss each other off. The characters ARE the story."

Bev, you got it.

I respect every reader / reviewer as having the right to her own opinion, but when someone gets it, I'm so tickled I don't even know what to say.

That was exactly the point of the book. It's a romance novel for real people. I tried to dispense with the fantasy as much as possible, and write something that would ring true without all the trappings.

I'm so happy, I'm sniffling. Thank you.

QB said...

LOL! We just posted on each other's blogs at the same time!!! LMAO!

Of course, my post on your blog was to bitch at you, and yours here was nice and mushy. Oh, the guilt!

All I can say is PHEW! I was really nervous about you reading that review. I was totally honest, but I wasn't sure if you'd think I was talking out my ass or not.

Ann(ie) said...

I'd have been fine even if you hated it. Some people get it, some don't. That's way it goes. And I'm cool with that.

But you totally got it, which is awesome. Because you typically prefer paranormals, etc, that's even more of a compliment.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

yeah - i so loved this book. even if Annie sez there's boo-boos in it. i didn't see them, they didn't interfer with my pure reading pleasure. and it's in my read-over pile.

QB said...

And now she's got me looking forward to "Her Alibi" ANOTHER straight contemporary! ME- looking forward to a straight contemporary- who woulda thunk it? And she'll probably make me cry again, too.

Ann Aguirre said...

I didn't mean boo-boos exactly, Rhi. Just that I could see the other reviewers's points about it. It doesn't strike me as a book that everyone will love, unlike Alibi. I just can't imagine anyone NOT liking Alibi.

With Guide, I could see the complaint of "yes, Ellie had too many self-esteem issues" from one person. It felt true to me, though, because what woman is perfectly self-confident ALL the time? But I understand why the reviewer said that. I also understood the reviewer's complaint that Ash and Ellie's storyarcs were too disparate to mesh well. I disagree, but I see where she was coming from in saying it.

So in summary, Guide was a good book, but Alibi is a great one. I will NOT understand if people don't love it. :)

Ann Aguirre said...

One further thought on that --

As I saw it, both their storyarcs dealt with their ability to love and be loved.

Ellie didn't think enough anyone could love her as she was, if she didn't work for it, earn it.

Ash didn't believe in love like that between a man and a woman, not forever. Not where she stays.

They changed their minds together. That seems simple enough to me.