Review: Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie

Short and sweet novella from Jennifer Crusie. This was the first time I’d read it and it was previously published in an anthology from 2006, but it’s now available as a standalone.

Quick review for a quick read. You guys have no idea how much I did mental jumping jacks and cartwheels when I saw this listed on NetGalley. (So my actual reaction was akin to saying “OMG, YES! WIN! BRING IT! I WANT TO READ THIS!” As if my caps lock isn’t enough emphasis.) Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorite romance authors, and I’ll admit it took me back to laughing over “Bet Me”, “Agnes and the Hitman” and many of her other works I’ve read. I love her humor and I find many of her heroes to be swoon worthy. And I love watching the banter and chemistry between the leading characters. Man, even having to review this ARC I got makes me want to go back through her bibliography and read all the books/stories I haven’t read from her (as well as yearn for new ones…*looks with large pleading eyes* Please?)

This read was no different in the scheme of enjoyable, but it was uber short, which left me wanting more from it.

The story revolves around Trudy, shopping at the last minute for a hard to find holiday toy. The frustrating search has her running into a previous boyfriend who dumped her, and Trudy is having none of it. The banter was cute in some moments, and some bit measures where just funny for improv (I loved the part where Trudy bought Birthday wrapping paper by mistake, and Nolan improvised it by writing “Jesus” under every “Happy Birthday” line. Clever, man. Clever.)

And these lines had me chuckling too between Trudy and Nolan:

“Well, I never Maced anybody before. He scared the hell out of me when he screamed. But I’ll be better now. And I don’t need the Mace. I’ve seen Miss Congeniality twenty times, it’s Courtney’s favorite movie.”
“What are you talking about?”
“That SING thing. Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin.”
“No.” Nolan’s whisper was flat in the darkness. “Do not think you’re Rambo. Just run for the damn door.”

Storyline turns from unfortunate desperation in a situation to a pretty crazy scenario (think “Agnes and the Hitman” and a case of identities that aren’t necessarily what they seem). It’s a short read and entertaining, but I wish I’d had more time to get to know the characters and that I didn’t feel the pacing drag a little in this all-too-brief read. It’s still pretty self-contained and immersive though, so it did end up being a complete story with a decent wrap-up (no pun intended).

I liked it, and it was a decent return to Crusie’s writing for me, though not as expansively funny and engaging as some of her other novellas and novels have been. I’m hoping that with this re-release, there may be more stories coming our way because I’d definitely love to read more from her work in the future.

Overall score: 3/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher St. Martin’s Press.

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