Summer Reread: Faking It, Jennifer Crusie

faking it

Grade: A

Doing it at: 26%

Catnip: Beta Hero; Grifters; Deep Dark Secrets; Fast Talkers; Strong Female Lead; Frenching

Shame Scale: No shame, Faking It has so much real plot

Fantasy Cast: David Walton; Martine McCutcheon circa Love Actually

What do we taste like: Vodka and disaster

Book Description:

Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery-and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch who likes to escape reality, Eve the oldest daughter who has a slight identity problem (she has two), Nadine, the granddaughter who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And lastly, Matilda, the youngest daughter, has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, the secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past.

Meet the Dempseys, or at least meet Davy, a reformed con man who’s just been ripped off for a cool three million by his financial manager, who then gallantly turned it over to Clea Lewis, the most beautiful sociopath Davy ever slept with. Davy wants the money back, but more than that he’ll do anything to keep Clea from winning, including break into her house in the dead of night to steal back his future.

One collision in a closet later, Tilda and Davy reluctantly join forces to combat Clea, suspicious art collectors, a disgruntled heir, and an exasperated hitman, all the while coping with a mutant dachshund, a juke box stuck in the sixties, questionable sex, and the growing realization that they can’t turn their backs on the people they were meant to be…or the people they were born to love.

I love Jennifer Crusie’s books, she has really intricate plots with tons of side characters and excellent dialog. Her book boys are always really dreamy and her girls are smart, sassy ladies I’d like to be friends with. Faking It was the first book of hers I ever read, and a dozen years later it is still my favorite. I picked up my paperback copy at the Walgreens by my apartment in Las Vegas; I worked one am to nine am and would stop on my way home every day to buy juice, muffins in cellophane, and cheap magazines and paperbacks with my tip money. This was the ideal life, and I think I devoured Faking It in under 48 hours. When I opened it to reread I found a two dollar bill being used as a book mark — I really need to search all the books from my waitressing days, they might be full of money.

If you haven’t read any Crusie, Faking It is a good one to start with, even though Welcome to Temptation comes first and introduces Davy via his sister Sophie’s story; I like Temptation (and Phin!) but you know I think reading books in order is for L7 squares. Crusie does tons of movie and song mentions in her books, Faking It has a jukebox playing in the background, so I made a playlist. Start it while reading this review and then listen to the whole thing when you go find and read this book.

Matilda Veronica Goodnight (Tilda) is making a living painting recreations of famous paintings on people’s walls. Its lucrative, she’s great at it, she hates it. Her dad spent years teaching her to paint in the style of famous painters, Tilda can fake anything. Her family relies on her to hold everything together and to be the sensible drab one within their cast of colorful characters, so she does. She paints the murals, lives above the family gallery, and tries to help pay off their mortgages. Tilda can’t even have good sex because she’s afraid if she lets herself go she’ll blurt out all her deep dark secrets during orgasm. The only problem is that her niece — precocious, adorable Nadine — just sold one of her secrets for $1000 bucks, and now Tilda has to get it back before her neat, boring little world explodes. Which is how she ends up in a dark closet wearing a ridiculous satin kimono jacket and making out with Davy Dempsey.

Lets all have a book swoon sigh for Davy. He’s tall, dark, and handsome. He’s a con artist with a heart of gold. He loves all of Tilda’s curves, her curls, and her quirks. He wants to rescue her. He wears Clark Kent glasses and gives oral sex on couches in front of jukeboxes. He can hustle pool and intimidate teenage boys that aren’t good enough for your niece. Davy is the full package. I would go on the grift for this man.

Tilda’s painting was sold to one Clea Lewis, grieving wife of a recently deceased husband and current paramour of a local art collector who was an old friend of Tilda’s father. Clea is also Davy’s ex-girlfriend, who has just embezzled three million of Davy’s dollars (the original million of which Davy stole from Clea to begin with, he’s not exactly a choirboy but I would forgive him anything), so that’s why he was also hiding in that closet. And when Tilda looks up at him with her big blue eyes, and rasps “Steal it for me,” the con-man in him can not resist.

Clea is ostensibly the bad guy, but I really kind of like her. She’s 45 and has built her whole life on being beautiful and having men take care of her, and suddenly things are imploding.

“You betrayed me,” Davy said, his voice tensing.

“Oh, I did not,” Clea said, exasperated. “Look, I’m beautiful, I’m charming, I’m expensive and I give the best head in America.”


Clea sat back in her chair. Breakfast. He wanted her to cook. She had flawless skin, she wore a size four, she knew every sexual position that a man over fifty could want, she was unfailingly cheerful, supportive, complimentary, and passionate on demand, and now he wanted breakfast?

I mean she has a point, if I was a size four who gave amazing oral sex on demand I wouldn’t think it fair for me to have to make omelets either. If I was a size four I couldn’t even EAT a proper omelet and button my pants.

Davy does steal the painting for Tilda, because he’s a sucker for a curly haired damsel, and then he follows her home. And moves in. Tilda lives above the gallery, and there are apartments for rent up there, so Davy rents one from Gwen (Tilda’s mother). Tilda pretends to be exasperated at his following her home, but they shared a pretty hot kiss in that closet:

“There’s not much to tell, ” Tilda said, trying to sound offhand. “I opened a closet door, and he jumped me and gave me an asthma attack, so I bit him. Then he criticized my clothes and told me he was no gentleman and kissed me.”

“Ooh, ooh,” Eve said. “How was it?”

“Pretty damn hot,” Tilda said, feeling safe enough in the basement with Eve to tell the truth. “I frenched him.”

Plus Davy stole the WRONG painting and Tilda wouldn’t mind if he went back in to get the right one. Davy has to go back into Mason Phipp’s house anyway to get his money, so he agrees to play knight in stripey-burglar-sweater for Tilda. And to hopefully make out with her again.

I read tons of romance and I think Davy and Tilda have one of the very rare book first times that doesn’t hit it out of the ball park and send our heroine shuddering into ecstasy to the sky. Tilda is full of secrets (maybe that’s why her hair is big!), and she can’t let her guard down, despite Davy being pretty skilled and persistent. And, also refreshingly, Davy knows she was faking it and lets her know that this makes it lousy for everyone. Of course, he’s willing to try again. And again if he has to. We like a man who isn’t a quitter.

He also agrees to help her get back all six Scarlett Hodge paintings that the gallery sold when Tilda was seventeen. Tilda painted them, at the behest of her father who couldn’t paint himself and came from a long long line of skilled art forgers. He expected Tilda to carry on the family business but she didn’t have the stomach for forgery. However she is very skilled at helping Davy charm, play, and lie to get her Scarlett’s back. The scenes where Davy and Tilda scam people together are exceedingly charming, her ability to con does wonderful things to Davy’s libido.

“You want me?” Tilda said.

“Hell, yes” Davy said, “I crave your crooked mouth.”


“You don’t care that I’m a forger,” she said, looking like crime made flesh.

“Honey, for the first thirty years of my life, I scammed everything that moved. Where do you think the FBI found me? Church?”

“You’re twisted, too?”

“Like a pretzel.”

“So I can confess anything to you and you won’t —”

“Matilda,” Davy said as her nefarious little art-forging hand warmed his shirtsleeve and his blood. “Tell me you have the Hope diamond stashed behind the jukebox, and I will fuck your brains out.”

Faking It is written like an old fashioned screwball comedy, lots of twists and turns, and characters who are all secretly entwined and pretending to be things they’re not. Matilda’s sister Eve is a mild mannered school teacher by day and a promiscuous night club singer named Louise four nights a week. The newest resident of the gallery apartments is a hitman sent by Clea posing as a handyman from Miami who may be neither of those things. Mason is living with Clea, but trying to get with Gwen, maybe because he wants to single white male Gwen’s dead husband. Gwen just wants to go to Aruba, not look at paintings anymore, and maybe get laid. Davy’s father rolls into town to show everyone what a REAL con man looks like, and Davy’s friend Simon flies in and starts sleeping with Louise who he doesn’t know is really Eve.

Got all that? That’s certainly not even all of it.

Every time I read this book I find new things to love and am just as engrossed as the first time. There’s plot lines within plot lines to keep straight and its a slow unfold, but bear with it, the HEA is worth the wait. Faking It boasts: hit men, FBI, art forgery, blackmail, a 60’s doowop soundtrack, and Mussolini sex roleplay. I can not fathom what else you little dumplings could want out a contemporary romance with a real grown up heroine. Faking It would be an ideal vacation read, perfect for reading while lying in a hammock on your porch, or to fall into whilst ignoring your children whose summer vacation really seems to be lasting forever. Give this one a shot.

Buy it on Amazon:

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