The Big Bad Wolf Tells All

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Tanzy Harrington is the ultimate Alpha Female. As the Bay Area's most-read single-scene columnist and self-proclaimed love-'em-and-leave-'em artist, she's not about to tie herself down to one man—especially when "settling down" seems awfully close to simply "settling." But when all of her friends are happily married—and reproducing—she's starting to feel a little bit like she's missing something important. What is it about those dependable guys—the sheep who follow along—that makes Tanzy want to prowl the hot ...
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Tanzy Harrington is the ultimate Alpha Female. As the Bay Area's most-read single-scene columnist and self-proclaimed love-'em-and-leave-'em artist, she's not about to tie herself down to one man—especially when "settling down" seems awfully close to simply "settling." But when all of her friends are happily married—and reproducing—she's starting to feel a little bit like she's missing something important. What is it about those dependable guys—the sheep who follow along—that makes Tanzy want to prowl the hot spots looking for a wolf to take home to her lair?

And then there's Riley Parrish, her eccentric aunt's mysterious new employee. He's a sheep, all right ... right? But under his polite, good-provider exterior, she catches a glimpse of something decidedly wolfish lurking in his eyes.

With a deranged fan stalking her, her friends cooing over china patterns and baby outfits, and a deadline her editor won't extend, Tanzy's experiment in wolf-taming may be ill-thought, but it sure is a howling good time.?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Women everywhere will be taking The Big Bad Wolf Tells All to bed with them. Donna Kauffman writes smart and sexy, with sizzle to spare...and no batteries required!"—Janet Evanovich

"All bets are off in this witty page-turner, just perfect for a day at the beach."—Pages

"[The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is] deftly spun... with a zippy style."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Suspense meets contemporary romantic comedy as Kauffman takes a detour from her usual historical romances (The Charm Stone) to follow a hip young alpha female in San Francisco. Tanzy Harrington writes a romance column for MainLine, "the hottest online magazine since Salon." In her column, "Tanzy Tells All," she asserts that "men can be put into two categories, wolves and sheep"; Tanzy is a fervent fan of "Wolf Sex" (practiced by single nonconformists) and determined to resist the cozy allure of "Sheep Sex" (for the marrieds), even though she's recently become "the Last Bridesmaid in a social circle filled with Till-Death-Do-Us-Parters." Her opinions set off a flurry of controversy and garner her one particularly obsessed cyberfan, SoulM8, who turns into a full-fledged stalker. Her rich great-aunt Millicent hires Riley Parrish to protect Tanzy while she house-sits at Millicent's estate during the Christmas holidays. Riley has all the outward markers of a stolid good provider, but he turns out to be the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. Can he tame Tanzy's wolfish heart? Tanzy and Riley have lively, likable voices, but the stalker mystery subplot never really gathers steam, and neither do Tanzy and Riley's interminable presex dialogues (though Kauffman's sizzling love scenes are almost worth the wait). Kauffman's lack of attention to vital mystery action ingredients (there's not one car chase or image of Riley really pumping those fab abs) will dismay readers searching for a new Stephanie Plum. But for those dreaming of alpha males at poolside? It might fit the bill. (June 3) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Tanzanita Harrington, a popular columnist who writes about love and life in the big city (in this case, San Francisco), is famous for her theory that men are either wolves or sheep. While women like to date wolves, she claims, they end up marrying sheep. Life is good for Tanzy until an overzealous fan ("SoulM8") begins cyberstalking her. Tanzy's fabulously wealthy Aunt Millicent asks Tanzy to housesit her fortress-like estate but neglects to tell her that Riley, her live-in "assistant," is actually a security specialist. Riley, a former NFL football star, doesn't want Tanzy to know who he is, either. Having learned from her columns that she's attracted to wolves and wanting to keep their relationship strictly professional, Riley disguises himself as a sheep in a Clark Kentish outfit, complete with glasses. But as Tanzy finds herself reluctantly attracted to this man who's totally not her type, the stalker keeps moving in. A woman who's more conventional than she realizes, a man who's really a wolf in sheep's clothing, an unapologetic matchmaker, and a surprise villain make up the cast of this romantic comedy, which has just the right amount of humor and suspense. Fans of Laura Zigman's Animal Husbandry and its cattle analogies will also enjoy this book by the author of The Charm Stone. For most romance and popular fiction collections.-Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Been-there, done-that babe falls for Mr. Nice Guy, in a first from romancer Kauffman. Tanzy Harrington prefers supersexy, totally irresponsible men, and she’s bedded plenty of them. Good old dependable dudes who have Husband Material stamped on them just don’t do it for her, and she’s not afraid to let the readers of her Bay Area online romance column know she’s the Last Bridesmaid and proud of it (pages of breezy chat with her fans and friends make the point ever so clear). In her wonderful world are two kinds of men: Sheep and Wolves. Fortunately, she seems to have an unbreakable heart, though she herself has broken a few, and nothing has ever gone wrong in her little moral universe. Marriage is fine for the other Sheep but baaaaaaaaaaad for her (quite a few ovine sound effects punctuate this narrative, interspersed with greeting-card wisdom from snappy-talking Tanzy). But her aristocratic Aunt Millicent, a silver-haired Vassar graduate who never lets anyone forget it, thinks that Tanzy needs something more in her consequence-free life. Tanzy thinks Millicent’s latest choice is definitely a Sheep--or is security expert Riley Parrish really a Wolf? When an anonymous fan begins to harass Tanzy, Riley steps in, though she doesn’t know that Millicent paid him to protect her. He’s happy to accompany sexy Tanzy to San Francisco soirees, even get up close and personal in the back of a limo if the job calls for it, but he’s much too cool to get wrapped around her pretty little finger. She can’t figure out why she’s so attracted to him, since he definitely isn’t her type--is he? The subplot moves glacially toward various suspects: Could it be the creepy middle-aged geek? The frumpy blond lesbianwith a secret crush? Maybe it’s a creepy middle-aged geek masquerading as an obsessed lesbian! Or .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553584585
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/27/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Once upon a time, Donna Kauffman was born in Washington D.C. Alas, there were no glass slippers in her closet, but fate was kind, and a trustworthy (and totally hot) knight did cross her path. No fool she, Donna didn't need a fairy godmother to point out a good thing when she saw it. Their happily ever after is currently taking place in Virginia.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Tanzy waited in line, wondering for the umpteenth time how Sue had talked them into this. “A good cause,” she muttered beneath her breath, thinking again that she could just as easily have written a check. And saved herself the embarrassment.

“What size?” the gentleman behind the counter asked her when it was finally her turn.

“Six-and-a-half, heel or sandal. Seven, flat or sneaker.”

The guy merely looked at her. Apparently having a sense of humor was optional when being considered for a job at the Bay Area Bowl-O-Rama.

“Seven, please.”

The man grabbed a pair of what had to be the most hideous shoes she’d ever seen and slid them across the counter. And she was going to pay him for the privilege of wearing those? She sent a silent apology to her feet. “I don’t suppose you have something in a Jimmy Choo?” Again with the blank stare. “Never mind.” She gingerly picked up the two-tone baby puke green and yellow leather lace-ups and scanned the lane monitors for her name. Charity event or no charity, Sue was going to owe them all big time for this little outing, she thought as she settled in their team’s alcove.

She watched as other people began filling up the lanes and waited for the rest of the gang to show up. Dreading it almost as much as she dreaded the thought of bowling for dollars. She glanced at her watch. She still had time to run for it.

Then Rina swept in. Rina never did anything as pedestrian as walk, or even stroll. She swept. Tanzy stood and waved to her, then promptly tripped over the mile-long shoelaces. Needless to say, Tanzy wasn’t a born sweeper.

Rina stepped down into their little seating area and pulled her into the one-armed almost-hug that didn’t muss hair or makeup. “I’m back,” she announced with her typical élan. “The world can resume rotating on its axis now.”

Tanzy breathed a dramatic sigh of relief. “Thank God, the wobble was getting to me.” But she was glad Rina was home from her honeymoon. Of their group, Rina was her closest friend and confidant. Not to mention constant fodder for her biweekly column. Fortunately for Tanzy, and her readers, Rina found her occasional starring role amusing and flattering.

“What in the hell are those?” Rina was pointing to the baby puke leather rafts on Tanzy’s feet.

“Schizophrenic shoes only a manic-depressive could love?”

Rina wrinkled her nose. “I’m getting depressed just looking at them.”

“So, I assume the islands were fabulous,” Tanzy asked, almost desperate to change the subject. It was bad enough she had to wear the shoes. She drew the line at talking about them. “Your tan is perfect.” As were Rina’s sleek dark hair, designer clothes, lean model’s body, blah blah blah. Of course, Rina carried it off in a “Doesn’t everyone look this fabulous?” kind of way that made her hard to hate. Despite her own unmanageable brown curls, the occasional freckle, and eyebrows that were a bitch to keep plucked right, Tanzy managed not to be jealous most of the time. Generally that was when she wasn’t wearing baby puke shoes.

“It was utter paradise, Tanz,” Rina responded, flashing a sly smile. “We even managed to leave the yacht to see some of them.”

Rina’s third husband was Garrison West, aka Old Money. Fifteen years her senior, he barely looked it. And thanks to a team of plastic surgeons and personal trainers he probably never would. Rina was convinced the third time was the charm. Tanzy hoped she was right. More likely it was the disposable investment capital that was the charm. Given how Rina loved to dispose of her husbands’ capital, it just might be a match made in heaven.

Rina looked around the place. “How did we let her talk us into this again?”

“Beats the hell out of me. I’m thinking we just put a check on the little scorekeeper pedestal thing here and head to the lunch counter, whereupon we can stuff our faces while we watch other people make asses of themselves.”

“You know how I feel about consuming grease. But . . .” She glanced at Tanzy’s shoes and shuddered. “I’m thinking you have a plan.”

Tanzy laughed. “Just be thankful you missed out on Mariel’s ‘lunch with the girls’ last week.” She shuddered just thinking about it.

“Please don’t tell me she dragged you all to The Carousel. Again.”

Tanzy nodded, expression grave. The Carousel was the latest place for new parents to take their vaunted offspring. Amongst other things, it featured booths carved out of actual carousel horses, and pipe organ music. “And you weren’t even there to save me. I had circus nightmares for a week.”

“Oh God,” Rina whispered in mock horror. “Not creepy clown sex.”

Tanzy nodded. “Sue and I were the only ones who made it. I have no idea what happened to Sloan. So it was really above and beyond the call.”

Rina covered her hand. “I’ll make it up to you. In fact, I’m planning a little dinner party and–”

Thankfully Tanzy was rescued from what she knew was coming next, the Special Dinner Invitation for Single Friends, when Mariel and Sue showed up.

Mariel was the other newlywed of the group, married seven months earlier. She was also in the middle of her third trimester and regarded her impending parenthood like a new religion.

“Let’s hope she doesn’t preach to the unbelievers today,” Tanzy muttered to Rina, before stepping forward with a broad, teeth-clenched smile on her face. “Hi, guys. Sue, we need to talk.”

“Now, Tanzy, you promised–”

Mariel ignored their little byplay, she was too busy waving something. “I have sonogram pictures!” she sang.

Rina caught Tanzy’s eye and they shared a silent groan. “Great,” Rina managed, then turned to Sue, who was still in her club tennis duds. “Oh, bowling alley shoes are totally going to make that outfit.”

“Ha, ha. Come on guys, it will be fun.”

They all just looked at her, Mariel included, who had by now looked at the lanes, and Tanzy’s feet, and was covering her belly protectively. Whether it was to shield her unborn child from the reverberating sounds of pins crashing against one another, or the horror of the shoes, she had no idea.

“How did the lesson go?” Mariel finally asked Sue, always the polite one.

Sue smiled, all flashy white teeth and those little crinkles at the corners of her eyes that only seemed to make her look perkier. Sunny Sue, as Tanzy always thought of her. Married to Perfect Paul. They were a disgustingly happy couple, the Barbie and Ken of Presidio Heights. “Well, let’s just say I’m not going on the WTA tour anytime soon,” Sue said with a laugh. “But I beat the snot out of Paul’s sister, so that was a bonus.”

So she was Barbie with an attitude. Which was why Tanzy hadn’t slit her wrists when she discovered she’d been paired with the perennially Sunny Sue as dormmates, freshman year at UC Berkeley.

Tanzy clapped her hands together. “Whaddya say we write big checks to Sue’s charity and go eat greasy fries while watching other people in bad footwear throw heavy things.”

Sue didn’t even try to put up a fight. She knew when she was outnumbered.

They all shuffled up to one of the booths and managed to wedge into their seats. Poor Mariel barely fit. But she didn’t complain. Tanzy suspected she knew everyone wasn’t exactly thrilled with her choice of lunch venues last week.

“Wonder where Sloan is,” Mariel said.

“Probably ringing up some impossibly huge sale,” Sue said. “She could sell sculpture to a homeless person.”

“Or maybe she’s home screwing Wolfie’s brains out,” Rina added with a sly grin. “She did say Wolfgang was being very apologetic and trying hard to please her. Hard being the operative word, I’m sure.”

Sue smacked her hand. “You newlyweds, all you ever think about is sex, sex, sex.”

“And you and Paul don’t?” Rina shot back.

Sue sighed. “Not like we used to.” She grinned easily. “But no complaints from me. After five years, you don’t expect fireworks.”

Tanzy tried not to blanch at the very thought. No fireworks? After only a couple of years? She wasn’t as perkily optimistic as Sue, but she thought her friend should have at least a little problem with that scenario.

Sloan came in then, with her postmodern slinky body draped in her postmodern slinky black clothes, and her postmodern waif haircut framing undeniably flushed cheeks. It occurred to Tanzy that Sloan might be the only person who could actually pull off bowling alley shoes.

“Ding, ding, ding,” Rina said, tapping her glass with her spoon and motioning to Sloan. “I think I picked the winning scenario.” She leaned over and dropped her voice. “Of course, if I had a husband like Wolf trying to get back in my sexual good graces, do you think I’d be here given the choice?”

Tanzy just rolled her eyes. Despite the moniker, Sloan’s husband, Wolfgang, was not exactly alpha material. At least, to look at him you wouldn’t think so anyway. He was a soft-spoken artist from Austria; tall, thin, with wispy blond hair. His best features were his enigmatic blue eyes. Tanzy happened to know that was what drove Rina crazy. She had a thing about hooded eyes.

Of course, apparently so did most of the young female models Wolf used for his sculptures, as Sloan had recently found out the hard way. But they’d been trying to patch things up. She wondered if reconciliation sex was better than makeup sex.

“You have Garrison West III,” Mariel said a bit plaintively to Rina, as if getting married made a woman oblivious to all other men. Which apparently was the case for Mariel. “Wealth, power, good looks. What could you possibly see in Wolfgang?”

Rina just gave her a look. “Honey, all the family money in the world can only compensate for so much.”

Tanzy and Sue shared a look, then nodded sympathetically. Mariel simply looked perplexed.

“Never mind,” Rina said. “And don’t worry, I’m perfectly happy with Gar.” She stood and gave Sloan the one-armed semihug as she found their table. “So, I guess you only need dessert now, huh?”

Sloan gave her a spare-me look, then quickly seated herself. “So,” she motioned to the room at large, “we’re not bowling for dollars?”

“We’re writing checks and eating fries for charity,” Tanzy said, enjoying the uncharacteristic flush on Sloan’s otherwise pale face. At least someone was having great married sex. All hope wasn’t lost.

When Tanzy first met Sloan, during her rebellious underground period in college, Sloan had been the sexiest unfeminine person Tanzy had ever seen. A retro beatnik who wore Doc Martens and black clothes, with a haircut so short it defied being called a style, sporting multiple body piercings way before it was a trend, Sloan still managed to exude a slinky sexy vibe.

She was still all those things, but falling in love with Wolfgang had softened something in her. Yet rather than ruining her edge, it had somehow only made it more complex and mysterious. Tanzy had been worried about her friend lately, though, so it was good to see her smiling again.

“You have to try new things, Tanz,” Sloan said with a far more characteristic world-weary sigh. “Sometimes that means pulling yourself out of your comfort zone.”

“Yes, well, her comfort zone apparently only extends to charity events where you can wear designer footwear,” Sue said, and they all laughed.

Tanzy often thought about the odd dynamic of their little social circle, but she’d long since given up trying to figure out why it worked as well as it did and just accepted that it did. And thanked God for it. She didn’t know what she’d do without them. In fact, it was worrying about her new role in that dynamic, as the last single woman of the group, that had dominated her thoughts in the two weeks since Rina’s wedding.

She’d worried that everything would feel different today, with all of them finally together. That she’d feel somehow excluded sitting amongst her married friends.

“So, I take it things are . . . improving?” Rina pointedly asked Sloan. “Wolfie’s keeping his clogs parked under your bed exclusively now?”

Leave it to Rina to not pull any punches, Tanzy thought. But she was surprised when, instead of looking happy and smug, or faintly irritated at having her marriage put up for dissection in a bowling alley diner, Sloan flushed with what looked more like embarrassment.

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Interviews & Essays


1. What makes a book Chick Lit?

A story where the main protagonist is a young woman who is struggling to make sense of her life. Sometimes this involves family concerns, sometimes it's about career choices, or romance...or all of the above. The ending, while not necessarily wrapping up her life in a tidy bow, usually winds up with the heroine feeling a sense of hope about the direction her life is heading.

2. What was the first Chick Lit book you read?

I have to think back, but it was probably See Jane Date by Melissa Senate. Most recent was Meg Cabot's Boy Meets Girl.

3. Who do you think is the audience for Chick Lit?

I think the audience is still forming for this genre. Initially the target was probably the leagues of young, single, city girls who represent (or did earlier on) the typical heroine in these stories. In reality, I think the audience is far more wide ranging than that. As an example, coming from a romance fiction background, I see a large percentage of that readership – all ages – readily embracing this genre. I think Chick Lit falls under the broader heading of Women's Fiction and, as such, has a general appeal to that same audience.

4. Does Chick Lit have to be funny to work? Explain.

Not at all. Again, initially these were "struggling city girl figures out her life" stories – as typified by Bridget Jones and Sex in the City, and appealed to readers because of the heroine's blunt and perhaps somewhat snarky view of her world. She wasn't perfect, which made her human, and her humorous take on life's obstacles made her trials and travailsmore accessible to the reader. But the genre has grown quickly and has already expanded well beyond those boundaries. The humor found in most of the earlier works is still a common narrative tone, but it isn't a necessity any longer. I was recently fortunate enough to read Karen Brichoux's upcoming book, Separation Anxiety. And while the pov character does have a certain sarcastic wit, the book is by and large an emotional and very moving story. Yet, it still definitely falls within the chick lit genre and will appeal to that audience.

5. Is there a Chick Lit formula, or certain "must haves"?

The genre may have evolved from a group of stories about struggling young women finding their way in life with humor and panache, but again, I think it has progressed beyond those limitations, if indeed any limitations ever existed. I think Chick Lit, much like romance or any other form of genre fiction, is still defining itself. As it grows, as the readership grows with it, it will continue to morph and change to reflect both the expectations and experiences of its readers, and of its writers.

6. Fashion and beauty magazines --- and in fact, our entire culture --- surround women with images that often make them feel they are inferior. Do you think that Chick Lit, where women admit failure and address body issues and make mistakes, allows women to feel better about themselves? Explain.

It may be empowering to some degree. If for no other reason than to make the reader feel like she's not alone in addressing some of the same issues in her own life. But I also I think in many cases the stories have an underdog element that the reader can root for, even if she doesn't personally identify with the heroine's problems.

7. Tell us about a scene or a character in one of your books that you are particularly proud of.

Wow, that's a tough one. I feel like every scene plays an important part of the developing story, so to try and underscore one in particular is hard. It might be easier to select a character, but that's sort of like being asked to pick your favorite child. I'd say that in general I'm proud of my heroines. They are a group of strong women who face down the challenges life tosses their way with grit and determination. And, okay, a little attitude as well.

8. What scene in your own books are you most surprised you wrote?

The final ones. Some days I don't ever think I'm going to get there.

9. Do you think the term Chick Lit is condescending?

I think labels are inevitable, though constricting. It helps the reader convey the kind of story she/he is looking to find again, so they evolve into being. I don't have a particular problem with this one. The readership is predominantly female and I think it would be no matter the definition, due to story content. For me, the word chick is a strong, affectionate label, woman to woman, not a demeaning one. Now if it was Slut Stories or Tart Tales I might feel differently.

10. Share with us a story of an encounter you have had with a fan, either in person or via e-mail/snail mail.

I once had a woman come up to me at a booksigning and tell me one of my books saved her marriage. She told me that she and her husband had taken turns reading chapters to one another as part of a marriage counseling therapy. She said that of all the books they'd tried, mine was the only one they'd really gotten into and actually looked forward to reading. So much so that it opened lines of communication between them on subjects they'd previously been uncomfortable discussing, and, according to her, resurrected their love life as well. This, in and of itself, was pretty amazing and, I was stunned by the confession, I didn't know quite what to say to her. The awkward moment was saved when the woman standing behind her in line leaned in and said, "Which book was that?" Everyone laughed...and I sold every copy of that book in stock in the next twenty minutes. I asked her if she'd be willing to travel with me and recite that story at every signing.

11. What are you working on now, and when can readers expect to see it?

The next book from Bantam is Dear Prince Charming, which will be available this August. It is another "Glass Slipper" book – a series that began with The Cinderella Rules (Jan 2004). The stories are loosely connected by a trio of "fairy godmothers" who run a life makeover business. Each story centers around a young woman who finds herself at a crossroad in her life and ends up involved with the company in some fashion. The stories are humorous and sexy, but hopefully touching as well. I'm currently working on the third installment, Sleeping With Beauty, due out early 2005.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!

    Great story, funny dialog, funny characters, gripping from the beginning....wont regret this buy!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2005

    Great Book...

    I must admit the first chapter was a little slow to me but then things started to pick up.. I could not put the book down I was stuck on trying to find out what would happen next. I would recommend it to read although I am sorry to say it is not one I would read over and over again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2004

    Fun Book

    What a FUN read. Donna can always put humor along with romance and some suspense in the same book. I do not know how she does it over and over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2003

    Going on the keeper shelf

    I agree with Ms. Klausner's review. Especially if you think you should be reading chick lit, but just love a good old romance. I think Ms. Kauffman has got her finger on a new pulse and I look forward to reading more of her stories.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    For fans of good chick lit

    San Francisco columnist Tanzy Harrington classifies the world quite simply around the concept that two types of males populate it: wolves and sheep. Tanzy prefers the dangerous wolves as her bed mate over the flock of dependable husband material. The key to her unusual attitude is that she loves them and leaves them with her heart untouched.<P> Her Aunt Millicent feels that Tanzy is missing out on real life so she chooses a candidate for her niece. Tanzy immediately blows away Millicent¿s selection as a sheep or why else would her aunt select him. In actuality Millicent hired security expert Riley Parrish to protect Tanzy from an anonymous fan threatening her. As Riley escorts Tanzy throughout the Bay area they fall in love, but she begins to wonder if he might be a wolf in sheep¿s clothing.<P> Fans of chick lit will enjoy this contemporary romance due to the uniqueness of Tanzy. The story line moves slowly forward, as the suspense elements remain de-emphasized though suspects surface. Instead, the tale focuses on Tanzy¿s Baa Humbug attitude towards sheep and her doubts about which classification Riley belongs to while she disregards the well known fact that wolves mate for life.<P> Harriet Klausner

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    Posted February 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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