Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie
(Harlequin L&L, $3.50, R) ISBN 0-373-44004-
*****

Okay, I admit it ... I was an unbeliever. I'd been hearing good things about Jennifer Crusie for a few years, but I just sort of ignored them. Well, from now on I'll be the one singing her praises because I just finished her newest book, ANYONE BUT YOU, in Harlequin's Love and Laughter line.

To be honest, even after perusing the blurb on the back on the book I really didn't think it sounded all that intriguing. Divorced woman (with crazy friend) gets new dog (basset hound) meets man, doesn't want to get involved, blah, blah...

So skip the blurb and start reading. I did, and when I was finished, I wanted to rush out and tell all my friends about it -- just as soon as my side stopped hurting from laughing so hard.

Newly divorced after 16 years of marriage, Nina Askew is enjoying her freedom, her new job and her new apartment, when she decides to adopt a perky puppy. What she gets is a basset hound. (Okay, part beagle.)

But her new dog, Fred, is definitely not perky; he's "part manic-depressive," "aero-dynamically challenged" and addicted to Oreos. But the good news is ... Fred brings home to Nina a sexy, downstairs neighbor, Alex Moore. (Sure beats bringing your slippers.)

And Nina and Alex are perfect for each other, although Nina doesn't think so because Alex is a tad bit younger. (Actually, make that quite a bit younger.) And Nina is also pretty busy straightening out her man-crazy best friend and revitalizing the stuffy publishing company she works for.

I probably haven't made ANYONE BUT YOU sound all that funny. But here's an example of Jennifer Crusie's dialogue:

"You're sure it's over? Maybe he's just having second thoughts because you're both getting serious. Maybe..."

"I caught him in bed with his secretary. I don't think she was taking dictation. Not with what she had in her hand, anyway."

Jennifer Crusie spins an original tale. (Not only is Alex younger, but neither he nor Nina want children -- GASP!) In fact, it's so original that I guarantee (have I ever done THAT before?) it will charm and delight. And did I mention that it also has perhaps the hottest love scenes -- page for page -- that you will find anywhere?

I read recently that Jennifer Crusie is working on her first single title. I can hardly wait because, in my mind, add another 100 or so pages, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips will be facing some real competition for those fans that love a fast-paced, hilarious, sexy read. Let the games begin!

I'm a believer now.

--Dede Anderson


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