Crusie, Jennifer 1949-

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Crusie, Jennifer 1949-
[A pseudonym]
(Jennifer Smith)


PERSONAL:

Born 1949 in Wapakoneta, OH; daughter of Jack and JoAnn Smith; married, 1971; children: Mollie. Education: Bowling Green State University, B.A., 1973; Wright State University, M.A.; Ohio State University, M.F.A., 1997; Ph.D. study and coursework at Ohio State University.

ADDRESSES:

Office—c/o Argh Inc. LLC, 285 5th Ave., PMB 470, Brooklyn, NY 11215. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Novelist and educator. Taught elementary and high school art and high school English in Beavercreek, OH.

MEMBER:

Romance Writers of America, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Rita Award, Romance Writers of America, 1995, for Getting Rid of Bradley; Top-Five Romance award, Library Journal, 1996, for Anyone but You; Career Achievement Award in romantic comedy, Romantic Times, 1996; Booksellers Award for best category romance, Romantic Times, 1997, for Trust Me on This; Top-Ten Romance awards, Romance Writers of America, 1998, for Tell Me Lies, 2000, for Welcome to Temptation; and 2001, for Fast Women; Reviewer's Choice Award for best contemporary single title, Romantic Times, 1999, for Crazy for You.

WRITINGS:


Sizzle (novella), Silhouette (New York, NY), 1992.

Manhunting, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.

Getting Rid of Bradley, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1994.

Strange Bedpersons, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1994.

What the Lady Wants, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1995.

Charlie All Night, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1996.

Anyone but You, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1996.

The Cinderella Deal, Bantam (New York, NY), 1996.

Trust Me on This, Bantam (New York, NY), 1997.

Tell Me Lies, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Crazy for You, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Welcome to Temptation, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Fast Women, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Faking It, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Bet Me, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor, with Leah Wilson) Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters, and the Power of Three, BenBella Books (Dallas, TX), 2005.

Crazy for You [and] Tell Me Lies, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2005.

Editor, with Glenn Yeffeth) Flirting with "Pride and Prejudice": Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, BenBella Books (Dallas, TX), 2005.

(With Bob Mayer) Don't Look Down, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice, published under name Jennifer Smith. Contributor of articles and reviews to various publications.

ADAPTATIONS:

Film rights to Bet Me have been sold to Cantura Productions.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jennifer Crusie was born Jennifer Smith and took her grandmother's name for the pseudonym she has used for most of her books. As Jennifer Crusie, she began writing romance novels, and her first, a novella titled Sizzle, was published in 1992. With degrees in art education and writing, she had been teaching in southern Ohio before she turned to romance writing full time. She earned a master of fine arts degree in fiction in 1997.

In reviewing Crusie's What the Lady Wants in Library Journal, Kristin Ramsdell called the novel "sexy, humorous, contemporary." Another Library Journal reviewer wrote that in Anyone but You, "humor adds to a wholly believable story." In her first hardcover for St. Martin's Press, Tell Me Lies, Crusie adds mystery to her romance. Library Journal contributor Sheila M. Riley called the story "an exciting, sensual romp, chockfull of mystery and intriguing characters." The story is set in the small town of Frog Point, Ohio, where wife and mother Maddie is in a troubled marriage with Brent, who is running for mayor. The mystery begins when Maddie discovers a pair of crotchless black lace panties under the seat of Brent's Cadillac. At the same time, handsome C.L. Sturgis, to whom Maddie lost her virginity while in high school, shows up at her front door looking for Brent. She is soon dealing with her old flame, old lies, and Brent's murder. She and C.L. investigate to clear Maddie while the town gossips whisper about her adultery and the murder. "Crusie's characterizations are theatrical, even cartoonish at times, but they grow on the reader," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "For lovers of chocolate brownies, fairly explicit sex, and heroines who let it all hang out, an entertaining hardcover debut." Emily Melton in Booklist decided that this is "a wonderfully fresh, funny, tender, and outrageous story that will delight fans of the comic mystery."

Library Journal reviewer Margaret Ann Hanes wrote that in Crazy for You, "the story comes together with just the right touches of humor, suspense, and some pretty darn sexy dialog." The novel is based on short stories Crusie wrote to earn her master's degree. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "an updated, rollicking version of Peyton Place," and added: "Crusie explores the underlying core that keeps couples together, detailing her characters without stereotypes." Quinn McKenzie is a Tibet, Ohio, high school art teacher living with coach Bill Hilliard. Quinn takes in a stray dog she names Katy, but Bill is against the idea and takes the little black dog to a shelter. Quinn saves the dog, dumps Bill, and turns to Nick, a mechanic who is the former husband of Quinn's sister. Nick unsuccessfully resists getting into an intimate relationship because he and Quinn have been good platonic friends, and he is close to Bill. Bill cannot accept the breakup with Quinn and becomes her stalker. Other characters include Quinn's best friend, Darla, who is trying to put the spark back into her marriage to Max.

"Funny and entertaining, Crusie's novel presents a lively cast and an exciting conclusion," declared Alexandra Shrake and David Pitt in their Booklist appraisal of Crazy for You. However, Elinor Lipman judged in the New York Times Book Review that "Quinn and company stomp, glare, dump, and rebound, scratching minor itches and redressing major wrongs in ways that at times seem childish, at others overly high-minded. … Crazy for You never lives up to the wit and intelligence of its opening pages."

In Welcome to Temptation, Sophie Dempsey travels to Temptation, Ohio, in response to a request from old friend Clea, a former porn star and aspiring actress. Sophie and her sister Amy, who run a wedding video business in Cincinnati, agree to help Clea change her career with a video that will showcase her acting talent. The conservative town council hears about the filming and passes an ordinance against pornography that is upheld by Mayor Phineas Tucker, with whom Sophie is having a relationship. Hanes, in another Library Journal review, maintained that Welcome to Temptation, like the author's two previous novels, offers an "endless supply of secondary characters with outlandish situations and very funny dialog." A Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed it "a romantic comedy that adds luster to the genre." The novel is "funny and inventive," Shrake commented in Booklist, and concluded that it is "sure to please Crusie's enthusiastic fans and attract new converts." Fast Women is Crusie's 2001 contribution to the romance genre, a humorous novel that finds divorced forty-something Nell Dysart temping at a private investigation firm, only to discover that she has a knack for solving small mysteries. The mysteries soon escalate to theft, blackmail, arson, and murder, while a relationship builds between Nell and her taciturn boss, in a novel that Booklist contributor Patty Engelmann dubbed "hilarious." Crusie's "snappy dialogue and skillful plotting more than makes up for some uneven pacing and one-dimensional villains," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor." Equally enthusiastic, Margaret Ann Hanes in Library Journal dubbed Crusie "hopelessly romantic and hilariously funny," and Fast Women "a successful switch from series romance to contemporary hardcover fiction."

Faking It finds Davy Dempsey, first introduced in Welcome to Temptation, hiding in a closet to escape the results of a burglary gone wrong. He was after some money that he had taken from ex-girlfriend Clea Lewis—but which Clea herself had taken right back. Sharing the closet with Davy is Matilda Goodnight, art forger, who had come to Clea's house to illicitly reclaim a painting that she had never been paid for, but which Clea had wanted to impress her wealthy art-loving boyfriend. Matilda also wants to recover the painting, the last of six forgeries she executed for her now-dead gallery-owner father, so that she can put an end to her forgery career for good. The chance encounter in the closet seems as though it will lead to romance between the hapless Davy and Matilda. Livening up the plot are other members of the Goodnight family, dubious characters from the art world, and incompetent hitmen. "The whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are as enormously engaging as the loopy plot," remarked a

Publishers Weekly reviewer. Library Journal contributor Margaret Ann Hanes noted Crusie's "talent for writing wacky romantic plots that shine with generous amounts of humor and enormous good cheer."

In Bet Me, a scurrilous wager involving sex fuels the quest for genuine romance. Straightlaced Minerva Dobbs is the object of a bet between ex-boyfriend David Fisk and Calvin Morrissey, a suave Lothario known for his endless cycles of relationships and heart-breaking. David places a heavy wager that Calvin cannot seduce and bed the conservative Minerva within a month. Min, who already disapproves of gambling, is outraged when she overhears this plot, but is curious when Calvin asks her out a few days later. She decides to agree to the date in order to foil the men's plan and give them their comeuppance. In the process, however, she and Calvin find each other to be much more appealing than originally thought. "Crusie has written characters we quickly come to care about," observed Kliatt reviewer Jodi L. Israel.

Crusie served as editor of Flirting with "Pride and Prejudice": Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece. The contributors offer original essays examining Austen's work and analyzing why her famous novel is the true ancestor to modern chick-lit and related fiction. "Crusie presents a crisp and witty introduction distilling the essence of Austen's appeal," noted Booklist reviewer John Charles, who concluded that the book is an "unusually enjoyable work of literary criticism."

Don't Look Down, a collaboration between Crusie and thriller author Robert Mayer, combines elements of romance and action to tell the story of movie director Lucy Armstrong. Lucy has been asked to finish the directing chores on a romantic action film after the original director suffers a heart attack. Her decision is complicated by the fact that her ex-husband, Conner, is the movie's stunt director, but she eventually agrees to the project because the Savannah, Georgia, location will make it easy for her to visit her sister Daisy and her five-year-old niece, Pepper. Worried about Daisy and Pepper's welfare, Lucy works to finish the film under pressure from the movie's backer, a mysterious Irishman named Finnegan. Complicating matters is the film's leading man, a macho, strong-but-silent type and former military man named J.T. Wilder. Unknown to Lucy, J.T. is an undercover CIA operative assigned to track down the elusive Finnegan and a certain Russian mobster who intends to call in a fifty-million-dollar debt. Romance quickly blossoms between Lucy and J.T., even as the level of danger on-set is ratcheted up by unexplained accidents and the presence of snipers and alligators. Charles, in another Booklist review, called the novel "a rare delight" and concluded that it is a "sexy, sassy, and smart combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


Booklist, February 15, 1998, Emily Melton, review of Tell Me Lies, p. 987; February 15, 1999, Alexandra Shrake and David Pitt, review of Crazy for You, p. 1046; February 1, 2000, Alexandra Shrake, review of Welcome to Temptation, p. 1007; April 15, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Fast Women, p. 1532; October 1, 2005, John Charles, review of Flirting with "Pride and Prejudice": Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick Lit Masterpiece, p. 16; January 1, 2006, John Charles, review of Don't Look Down, p. 22.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1998, review of Tell Me Lies, p. 131.

Kliatt, May, 2004, Jodi L. Israel, audiobook review of Bet Me, p. 44.

Library Journal, May 15, 1995, Kristin Ramsdell, review of What the Lady Wants, p. 58; January, 1997, review of Anyone but You, p. 51; February 15, 1998, Sheila M. Riley, review of Tell Me Lies, p. 169; February 1, 1999, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Crazy for You, p. 119; January, 2000, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Welcome to Temptation, p. 157; April 1, 2001, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Fast Women, p. 132; July, 2002, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Faking It, p. 115.

New York Times Book Review, April 11, 1999, Elinor Lipman, "Tuneup," review of Crazy for You, p. 41.

Publishers Weekly, January 26, 1998, review of Tell Me Lies, p. 69; January 11, 1999, review of Crazy for You, p. 53; January 3, 2000, review of Welcome to Temptation, p. 55; April 2, 2001, review of Fast Women, p. 36; July 29, 2002, review of Faking It, p. 52.

ONLINE


Jennifer Crusie Web site,http://www.jennycrusie.com (April 8, 2006).

Ohioana Authors Web site, http://www.ohioanaauthors.org/ (April 8, 2006), biography of Jennifer Crusie.