Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Reasons for reading: I really like Jennifer Crusie; I enjoyed their previous book, Don't Look Down; First Name title for the What's in a Name? Challenge
First line: "One fine August evening in South Carolina, Agnes Crandall stirred raspberries and sugar in her heavy nonstick frying pan and defended her fiance to the only many she'd ever loved."
Summary (from AudioFile): "Cranky Agnes, a columnist and author of the cookbook MOB FOOD, purchases the house of her dreams. She must have the wedding of her goddaughter there or lose the house to its former owner, a mobster widow. When Agnes whacks an intruder with a skillet and he falls through her kitchen wall into a secret room, she starts a chain of comic adventures. Filled with quirky characters, including a love interest who's a hit man, this offering is replete with sassy dialogue, mouth-watering meals, and zany twists. Agnes's imaginary conversations with her therapist are priceless."
My thoughts: Another fun one from this unlikely pair. Their style of tough guy + romance takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth it. It lost half a star because keeping track of all of the Mob connections and how everyone's related was a bit more confusing than it needed to be, I thought. But Shane and Agnes are great characters and the book's a lot of fun - how could it not be with lonely flamingos, a secret basement, and a mob wedding?
This book made me hungry! Agnes is happiest when she's feeding people and I desperately wanted some of her sour cream/pecan pancakes. I liked that Agnes is a real woman, she admits she's cranky, she's not a size zero (Shane describes her as lush and "pattable," which was cute) and she's obsessed with making To Do lists. I can relate, although I'm happy that mine aren't quite as hard to achieve as hers:
"Throw Maria's wedding. Return stolen flamingos. . . Get Lisa Livia's money back. Kill somebody named Casey Dean. . . . Sink Brenda's boat. Write my goddamn column. Belive in Shane when he tells me what I'm dying to hear."
If two books are enough to draw conclusions from, I'd say Crusie and Mayer's niche is stories about tough, lonely women and men with violent jobs who are total sweethearts underneath. In Don't Look Down, I just loved it when JT bought Wonder Woman Barbie for Lucy's niece. In this book Shane buys Agnes the things she needs to get ready for the wedding, including the ingredients for the cake. The tub of fondant gets blood on it because he had to pick it up after dragging one of the guys trying to kill Agnes into his car (after beating him unconscious), but it's the thought that counts and it wiped off easily enough.
A fun romp with plenty of sex and violence - what more could you want?