Monday, August 6, 2007

Your Alibi by Annie Dean

Annie Dean - Your Alibi (Liquid Silver Books)

Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 6" out of 9"

Addie has always been a party girl, she was even in an all girl rock band with her best friend Lorene, whom she once tried some girl-on-girl action with. Hell, she even married her now ex-husband, Fast Eddie (the name tells you all you need to know about HIM) because she figured he'd never become boring (careful what you wish for). She left the responsibility of running her family's southwestern inn, The Grail, up to first her mother until her death, and then her sister until she committed suicide (apparently because of all the responsibilities, but that's not made clear).

The story opens four years after the death of Addie's sister, Mel. Mel's husband, Manu, a huge Samoan who dresses only in assorted lavalava (wraparound skirts), is still numb with grief. Addie's father lives only to tinker with his less than stellar inventions and is oblivious to the world around him. Addie is left trying to keep the run down B&B afloat while also trying to recover from the financial devastation inflicted on her by Fast Eddie. I have to admit that this first section was pretty depressing and bleak but, as we find out later, Addie doesn't see it that way. It's her home and her family and she will do whatever it takes for them.

Addie comes up with the idea for a new on-line business called "Your Alibi" that begins to turn her financial situation around. She offers up proof for cheating spouses that they are attending a business seminar at The Grail. She even offers a deluxe package that includes fake itineraries, keynote speakers, and seminars geared toward the client's business interest. So, while "Your Alibi" doesn't bring a single guest actually walking through the door, it brings in guest rates without much overhead. Because she is aware that it wouldn't be looked on positively by her family and friends, Addie keeps the details of her successful business to herself.

Until the day a husband shows up to verify that his wife has been attending business retreats at The Grail.

Sean and his wife, Cami, have been together since they were little kids. But over the past couple of years, they've been growing further and further apart. He has a growing suspicion that Cami's frequent business retreats are a load of horseshit, but NEEDS to know for sure before he confronts her. Because of several travel delays, Cami's "retreat" is over by the time he shows up at The Grail and he realizes he'll have to snoop around to find out what Cami was doing there-- or if she was EVER there.

Addie realizes that Sean is the husband of one of her clients and sets out to distract him from asking too many questions. So Sean soon finds himself right smack in the middle of Addie's crazy life that is inhabited by some very colorful and endearing characters. Oh, and there are penguins. In the desert. And they are catalysts for a later important event.

It's not long before easy-going Sean and one-of-a-kind Addie become friends and eventually lovers. Annie Dean has turned the tables a bit with this couple, though. It's the female lead, Addie, who never thought she needed or wanted the whole hearts and flowers, happily-ever-after love. And Sean is nowhere near a typical alpha male, he's always been content letting Cami direct their lives. Now think back to most of the Romances where the female lead isn't a virgin. Almost always, she never knows sex can be good until she meets the hero. Well, in this book, Addie already enjoys sex (or would if there was anyone around the teeny town to indulge with), but after all the years of being with the cool Cami, it's Sean who never realized sex could be so out of control and FUN!

For me, the strength of this story is that I haven't met these characters before, and I CERTAINLY have never read this story before, not even close. There are a few things that are skimmed over in passing that I was hoping would be explained in more detail (Mel's suicide, Addie's infertility). But Annie has peppered this story with slice of life humor, some moments of genuine familial affection, a dash of zaniness, and at one point (Sean's freaking brilliant Jell-O comment) she even made me laugh and cry at the same time.
Piquant Opines: Mrs. G, Lauren, Rhian,


Ann Aguirre said...

OMG, what a great review! I'm glad you liked it, Bev.

I think you're the first person who's gotten the reference there at the end. It's totally a riff on Jerry Maguire, and NOBODY else has commented on it.

"For me, the strength of this story is that I haven't met these characters before, and I CERTAINLY have never read this story before, not even close."

That's totally what I was going for. I wanted to write something NEW, something that turned the trope on its head. I broke a lot of rules in this one, but I thought, for the most part, it worked, and it was fun.

Jade said...

Thank you Bev. I've been looking for something different lately. I keep finding that alot of the things I'm reading sound vaguely like something else I have read recently. Everything is starting to run together a little bit and I've been trying to find some unique books to read.
I was even on a mad search one night on Lora's forum looking for a book that I remembered reading the blurb from that sounded very different from anything else that I had read in a long time. I was so glad when I found it. lol still haven't gotten around to ordering it though. But I'm looking forward to it later on this month.

QB said...

Annie, that line has a permanent place on my Top 20 Lines of All Time List! Not only was it freakin' briliant, but it was perfect for the scene. I am in AWE!

Jade, as you know, I don't read a lot of straight comtemporaries. One of the reasons is because they tend to have a "sameness" about them, like they seem to follow one of a set number of formulas. Well, I can GUARANTEE you that "Your Alibi" is DIFFERENT! I wasn't exaggerating when I said I'd never read this story before!

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

yeah, love me some Annie/Ann. Even after all this time later the story is still with me. Isn't that what a truly good book does - becomes a part of your experience memories?

QB said...

YEP! Even with my God-awful memory, SOME part of a good book will always stick with me. In this case, I have no doubt it will be the Jell-O line! LOL!