Faking It

Faking It

4.2 167
by Jennifer Crusie

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"Hard to resist...[a] roller-coaster ride...perfect escapist fare!"

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


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

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"Hard to resist...[a] roller-coaster ride...perfect escapist fare!"

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


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.

"Art, orgasms, identities, affection. If it can be faked, the characters in Crusie's snappy new novel will do it...Crusie has a gift for concocting nutty scenarios and witty one-liners...genuine laughs."


"Bestseller Crusie takes readers on another smooth ride in her latest romantic caper...the whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are enormously engaging."

Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Crusie (Fast Women, etc.) takes readers on another smooth ride in her latest romantic caper. At the wheel this time is fab art forger Matilda Goodnight, whose chance encounter in a closet with cute con man/thief Davy Dempsey leads to madcap mayhem and breathless romance. He's trying to steal back the money he filched from Clea Lewis, ex-girlfriend (and possible husband killer), who had taken it right back. Tilda just wants her last "Scarlet" painting, which Clea has bought to impress Mason Phipps, her rich art-obsessed beau. It's the last of six forgeries Tilda did for Tony, her now deceased gallery-owner dad, and Tilda is determined to preserve her newly squeaky-clean reputation. Confused yet? It gets wackier, because the whole Goodnight clan and supporting cast are as enormously engaging as the loopy plot. There's Tilda's mother, Gwen; her sister, Eve/Louise, a split-personality teacher/diva; her gay ex-brother-in-law, Andrew; and her precocious teenage niece, Nadine. Add a host of shady characters and would-be hitmen, and the breezy plot thickens and puffs up like the light airy doughnuts all Goodnight women are attracted to but eventually forsake for muffins: "Muffins are for the long haul and they always taste good. They don't have that oh-my-God-I-have-to-have-that thing that the doughnuts have going for them, but you still want them the next morning." Finally, defying all odds, Crusie answers the burning questions she poses can liars and thieves fall in love, live happily ever after and stay out of jail? while confirming the dangers of dating doughnuts. (Aug. 19) Forecast: The paperback edition of Fast Women hit the New York Times bestseller list a week after publication look for Faking It to move just as fast on the hardcover side. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternate.
Library Journal
First introduced in Welcome to Temptation, the brother of wacky filmmaker sisters Sophie and Amy Dempsey gets his own story with hilarious and entertaining results. Davy Dempsey is a man on a mission: to recover some money owed him. In a hilarious botched burglary, he ends up stuck in a closet with Matilda Goodnight. She's at the same house attempting to steal back a painting that was not only never paid for but already has a shady past. Later, Davy rents a room from Matilda's mother, and soon he and Matilda are working together to recover their property and trying mighty hard to resist their growing attraction to each other. It doesn't take much for readers to figure out that Davy and Matilda are fated to live happily ever after. What makes the novel work is Crusie's talent for writing wacky romantic plots that shine with generous amounts of humor and enormous good cheer. Her usual assortment of secondary characters is here, along with a couple of loose ends that might give fans a chance to revisit this clan of entertaining souls once again. Fans of Crusie won't be disappointed in her newest work, which is an essential purchase for any public library with romance readers. - Margaret Hanes, Sterling Heights P.L., MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A raunchy, romantic comedy about art forgery, thievery, and all manner of con-artistry that's as hard to resist as one of Davy Dempsey's cons. Davy, whose older sister Sophie starred in Crusie's last outing (Welcome to Temptation, 2000), comes from a long line of scam artists. He arrives in Columbus, Ohio, to steal back his own money from ex-girl friend Clea, a charmer whose wealthy husbands tend to die under suspicious circumstances. Davy's plan is to go straight once he has the money, but old habits die hard. Born into a family of art swindlers, Tilda Goodnight is now a respectable painter of residential masterpiece murals (Botticelli in the bathroom). She's desperate to "retrieve" a painting her niece has mistakenly sold to Clea that could expose Tilda's larcenous teenage career, when she painted under the name Scarlet Hodge, the imaginary daughter of the respected primitive Homer Hodge. Davy and Tilda meet in Clea's closet while attempting their separate burglaries. Soon Davy has rented a room at the Goodnight Gallery and met Tilda's lovely, unhappy mother Gwen, her angelic sister Eve, Eve's gay ex-husband and troubled adolescent daughter, not to mention Eve's lascivious alter ego Louise. The Goodnights are a family of eccentric delights, and Crusie avoids the pitfall of portraying them as too impossibly cute or sweet: the sense of real human frailty in all her characters makes even the villains oddly endearing. As Davy helps Tilda retrieve the rest of the Scarlets, the two play a game of sexual cat and mouse that culminates in some very hot sex. Meanwhile, Gwen, who has a secret of her own, is courted both by the art patron Clea has marked as her next fiancé and by the Goodnights'mysterious new Gallery boarder, whom they suspect Clea has hired as a hit man to kill Davy in this roller-coaster ride of double identities, scams, and misinformation, none meant to be taken too seriously. Perfect escapist fare: Who knew Ohio could be so much fun?

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.18(d)

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Faking It

By Jennifer Crusie

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2002 Jennifer Crusie Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0333-2


MATILDA GOODNIGHT STEPPED BACK FROM HER LATEST mural and realized that of all the crimes she'd committed in her thirty-four years, painting the floor-to-ceiling reproduction of van Gogh's sunflowers on Clarissa Donnelly's dining room wall was the one that was going to send her to hell. God might forgive her the Botticelli Venus she'd painted in the bathroom in Iowa, the Uccello battle scene she'd done for the boardroom in New Jersey, even the Bosch orgy she'd painted in the bedroom in Utah, but these giant, glaring sunflowers were going to be His Last Straw. "I gave you a nice talent," He was going to say to her on Judgment Day, "and this is what you did with it."

Tilda felt her lungs tighten and stuck her hand in her pocket to make sure she had her inhaler.

Beside her, Clarissa wrapped her thin little arms around her size-two chenille sweater and squinted at the brownish-yellow flowers. "It's just like his, isn't it?"

"Yes," Tilda said with regret and handed her the museum print of the original.

"The flowers look so ... angry," Clarissa said.

"Well." Tilda closed her paint box. "He was nuts."

Clarissa nodded. "I heard about that. The ear."

"Yeah, that got a lot of press." Tilda shrugged off her paint shirt. "So I'll take my completion check —"

"Did you sign it?" Clarissa said. "You need to sign it. I want everybody to know it's a real Matilda Veronica mural."

"I signed it." Tilda pointed the toe of her paint-stained canvas shoe at the bottom where she'd scrawled "Matilda Veronica." "Right there. Now I have to be going —"

"You didn't sign it 'van Gogh,' did you?" Clarissa bent down. "Wouldn't that be forgery?"

"Not unless he had a Kentucky mural period we don't know about." Tilda tried to take a deep breath. "So I'll take that check —"

"Write your name bigger," Clarissa said, straightening. "I want everybody to know you painted this. I'm going to keep the magazine right here, too. So they know that it's a real Matilda Veronica —"

Clarissa's enthusiasm for her as a brand name had lost its appeal many days before, so Tilda changed the subject. "Well, Spot was certainly a champ about the whole thing." She nodded at Clarissa's elongated little dog on the theory that people were always pleased when you talked about their animals.

"His tail is almost hiding your name," Clarissa said.

Tilda let her glasses slide down her nose a little and looked over the rims at Spot, quivering at her feet. She'd done some dog face-lifting in the mural since Spot's beady eyes almost met over his long knife-edged nose. She'd softened the gray that streaked his dark, shaggy coat, too, so he didn't look so much like a very small, mutant wolf.

"You have to sign it again," Clarissa said. "Sign it up at the top. Bigger."

"No," Tilda said. "Everyone will see it because they'll be comparing Spot to the painting. People always do that, look at the dog and then look at the painting —"

"No they won't," Clarissa said, triumphant. "He goes back to the pound today."

"You're taking your dog to the pound?" At Tilda's feet, Spot pressed against her, shedding on her jeans.

"He's not my dog," Clarissa said. "You always put dogs in your murals —"

"No I don't," Tilda said.

"— it said so in the magazine, so I had to have one, too, or people wouldn't think it was a real Matilda Veronica, so I went and got the only purebred they had."

"Spot's a purebred?"

"Silver dapple, longhaired dachshund," Clarissa said. "He'll be fine back at the pound. He's used to it. I'm the third person who's adopted him."

Tilda pulled out her inhaler and inhaled.

It made sense when she thought about it. Clarissa was exactly the kind of woman who'd go to Rent-A-Dog and get a designer second for fake warmth in her faux Post-impressionist wall painting. Spot looked up at her now, shaking, almost as pathetic as he was ugly.

I am not going to rescue you, Tilda thought, capping her inhaler. I can't save everybody, I'm asthmatic, and I don't want a dog, especially not one who acts like he snorts coke and looks like he rolls in it.

"Sign it again up here," Clarissa said. "I'll get you a Sharpie."

"No," Tilda said. "I signed it. It's done. And I'll take the completion check now, thank you."

"Well, I don't know, that signature —" Clarissa began, and Tilda pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and turned steely eyes on her. Clarissa nodded. "I'll go get that check, then."

Left alone with Spot — a hell of a name for a dog that had none — Tilda tried to think of something besides the pound. There was the mural, another success, another chunk of money off the family debt, another two weeks painted from her life by ripping off art history — Her cell phone rang and cut short her stab at optimism. Tilda flipped open the cover. "Hell-o."

"Tilda," her mother said, "we have a problem."

"Really," Tilda said, staring at the sunflowers. "Who'd have guessed?"

"It's bad," Gwen said, and Tilda stopped, taken aback by the seriousness in her mother's voice. Gwennie did muffins and Double-Crostics, not serious.

"Okay, so whatever it is, we'll fix it." She looked down at the dog again, and he gazed back at her, desperation in his eyes. "What is it?"

"Nadine sold a Scarlet."

Tilda jerked her head up as her stomach cramped. In the background on the phone, she heard her sixteen-year-old niece say, "I still don't get what I did wrong," and she went cold all over.

"There aren't any Scarlets." Tilda tried to draw a deep breath while not throwing up. "Dad sold them all."

"Not the first one," Gwen said. "Remember? He couldn't because it was of our building. Nadine found it in the basement. And the woman who bought it won't give it back. I asked."

Clarissa came back with the check and Tilda took it. "Thank you," she said to Clarissa and then spoke into the phone. "Ask again."

"I tried. She hung up on me and I called again and Mason Phipps answered. She's staying with him." Gwen's voice grew slower. "Mason was an old friend of your father's. He's the one who told her about Scarlet and the gallery. And he invited me to dinner tonight."

"Oh, good. One of us will have a hearty meal."

"So I thought I'd go and distract them and you could sneak in and steal it," Gwen said. "And then we can bury it in the basement again."

Tilda turned away from Clarissa and whispered into the phone. "You do realize you don't get muffins in prison?" She tried again for a deep breath, fighting back the nausea. "And when we get it back, we're burning it. If I'd known it was down th —"

"Something wrong?" Clarissa said from behind her.

"No," Tilda said to her. "Everything is peachy." She spoke into the phone. "I'm coming home. I'll be there in four hours. Do not do anything until I get there."

"We never do," Gwen said and hung up.

"I certainly hope everything's okay," Clarissa said, looking avid.

"Everything is always okay," Tilda said bitterly. "That's what I do. I make everything okay." She stuffed the check in her shirt pocket and looked down at Spot, trembling on her foot. "Which is why I'm taking your dog."

"What?" Clarissa said, but Tilda had already scooped Spot up, his long body drooping over her arm while his feet tried for purchase on her hip.

"Just saving you a trip to the pound," Tilda said. "Have a lovely day."

She carted her paint box and the dog out to her beat-up yellow van, simmering with exasperation and another emotion she didn't quite recognize but thought might be fear. It put an acrid taste in her mouth, and she didn't like it. Once on the passenger seat, Spot simmered, too. "Oh, calm down," she said to him, as she put the van in gear. "Anything's better than jail." Spot looked at her strangely. "The pound. I meant the pound." She talked to him all the way home, and by the time she pulled into the fenced lot behind the Goodnight Gallery, Spot was asleep and she was calmer. When she shut off the motor, he jerked awake, his eyes like marbles, and she carried him, now heaving with anxiety, into the shabby gallery office and deposited him on the floor in front of her mother and niece, both of them looking blonde and blue-eyed and cute. So not like me, Tilda thought. Behind them, Gwennie's bubbler jukebox played "No, No Not Again," by the Three Degrees.

"This is Spot," she said to Gwen and Nadine. "I'm finding him a home where people will treat him with dignity and not sell him down the river while his back is turned."

"Well, I'm sorry," Nadine said, her pretty face defiant under her mop of pale curls. She was wearing a black T-shirt that said BITE ME in Gothic letters, but she still looked like Shirley Temple in a snit. "Nobody told me we couldn't sell paintings. We're an art gallery, for cripe's sake." She crouched down on the worn Oriental rug to pet Spot, who backed away, still heaving, his eyes peeled for a getaway. "What is wrong with this dog?"

"So many things," Tilda said. "About the painting?"

"While you were in Iowa," Gwen said to her, "Nadine broke curfew and Andrew sent her down to clean the basement as a punishment."

Tilda took a deep breath and thought of a few choice things to say to her ex-brother-in-law.

"You can stop looking so mad," Nadine said. "Dad didn't let me in the locked part. I still don't know what's in there."

"Storage," Tilda said.

"Right." Nadine rolled her eyes.

"Nadine." Tilda pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and looked down at her, and Nadine swallowed and sat up a little straighter. "You are not in a position to push your luck here. The painting."

"Dad made me clean the back storeroom," Nadine said. "It was full of furniture painted with animals. Dad said you did it when you were my age. It was pretty cool, especially the bed when we'd cleaned it off and set it up —"

"We?" Tilda said.

"Ethan and me," Nadine said. "You didn't think I cleaned that whole place out by myself?"

"So Ethan knows." Tilda consigned Andrew to the lowest circle of hell for criminal stupidity, in sending not only his daughter down there but also her non-family best friend.

"Well, he knows there's furniture down there, yeah," Nadine said. "What is it with you and the basement? It's furniture."

"Right." Tilda realized her lungs were closing up again and got her inhaler out. "Are we close to the painting yet?"

"It was in there," Nadine said. "It was wrapped in paper and stuck in a cabinet, the one with the turquoise monkeys on it. Did you really paint all those animals?"

"It's junk. I was going through a phase." Tilda hit the inhaler. "So you pulled the painting out and then what?"

"We thought it was good," Nadine said.

"So you sold it," Tilda said.

"No. We put it back in the cabinet and put dustsheets on everything and went to Cup O' Joe's. And then today, Grandma had to go to the bank, and this Mrs. Lewis came in and asked if we had any paintings by somebody named Scarlet, and I said no, all we had was Dorcas Finsters." Nadine turned to Gwen. "Are we ever going to get rid of those? I know she lives here, but they're really depressing, and I think we could —"

"Nadine," Tilda said.

"Okay." Nadine crossed her arms. "And Mrs. Lewis said no, she wanted paintings that looked like a kid had painted them, and she started talking about checkerboard skies and stars, and Ethan was here and he said, 'That's like the one we found in your basement,' and she would not leave until we showed it to her."

"Ethan said that," Tilda said.

"Or maybe me." Nadine squinted at the ceiling. "I'm not sure. Ask Ethan."

"Like Ethan wouldn't lie down on burning coals for you," Tilda said. "So you went and got the painting ..."

"And she offered me a hundred dollars for it and I said no," Nadine said virtuously.

"And yet, the painting is not here," Tilda said.

"She kept offering and I kept saying no and when she got to a thousand I caved," Nadine said. "Now will somebody tell me why that was bad?"

"No." Gwen sank down on the couch next to her granddaughter, looking much like Nadine was going to look in forty years, pale-eyed, graying, and gamine.

"Where's your mom?" Tilda asked Nadine. She turned to Gwen. "Why wasn't Eve watching the gallery?"

"She had a teachers' meeting," Gwen said. "Summer school. She's aiding again. Look, this Lewis woman is not going to return it. And the more fuss we make, the more suspicious we look."

"Suspicious about what?" Nadine said. "Nobody tells me anything." She reached down and scooped Spot off the faded rug, and his tremors picked up again. "If you don't tell me stuff, you can't blame me when I screw up."

She stuck her chin out at Tilda, defiant as she patted the dog, and Tilda thought, She's right. She pulled out the ancient desk chair so it was facing Nadine and sat down, wincing as it creaked. "Okay, here it is."

"No," Gwen said. "She's sixteen."

"Yeah, and how old was I?" Tilda said. "I can't remember a time I didn't know."

"Hello?" Nadine waved. "I'm right here. Know what?"

"Do you remember how successful the gallery used to be, when Grandpa ran it?" Tilda said.

"No," Nadine said. "I was a kid when he died. I wasn't really into the gallery thing then." She relaxed her hold on Spot, who struggled out of her lap, hit the rug with a splat, and recovered by putting his paws up on Tilda.

"Well, one of the reasons we were successful was that Grandpa sometimes sold fakes," Tilda said flatly.

"Oh," Nadine said.

"That's good," Gwen said, her hands gripped together in her lap. "The more people who know that, the better."

"I won't tell," Nadine said.

"Some of the paintings that were real were by a man named Homer Hodge," Tilda plowed on, "and Grandpa made a lot of money off him legally. But then he and Homer had a fight, and Homer stopped sending him paintings, so your grandpa got the bright idea of inventing a daughter for Homer named Scarlet, and he sold five paintings by her, making a big deal out of the fact that she was a Hodge."

Gwen slumped back against the couch and stared at the ceiling, shaking her head.

"Invented a daughter?" Nadine said. "Cool."

"No, not cool." Tilda picked up Spot, needing something to hold on to for the next part, and Spot sighed and curled his long, furry body to fit her lap. "The painting you sold was the first Scarlet, a fake painting by a fake artist. And that's fraud and we could go to jail. And people are going to realize it's a fake because Homer was from a farm in southern Ohio, and the painting you sold is of this building."

"I thought it looked familiar," Nadine said.

"So once they figure out that one's a fake, they're going to come back to the gallery and ask questions." Tilda felt her stomach twist again. "They might look at all the paintings Grandpa sold them for thousands of dollars and find out that some of them are fakes, and they're going to want their money back, and we don't have it. And we could go to jail for that, too, and lose the gallery and this whole building which means we'd all be out on the street."

"Wait a minute," Nadine said, perking up, evidently undeterred by the news her grandpa was a crook and she might soon be living in the gutter. "I didn't know it was a fake. The only person who knew it was a fake was Grandpa. So we're off the hook. We can blame him. He's dead!"

"That's been pretty much my plan for the past five years," Gwen said, still staring at the ceiling.

"Nice try, but no," Tilda said, feeling sicker. "The gallery as a business is still liable. And there's one other person who knew and could go to jail. The person who painted them."

"Oh." Nadine grew still. "Who painted them?"

"I did, of course," Tilda said, and got out her inhaler again.

IT HAD taken Davy Dempsey four days to track his ex–financial adviser from Miami, Florida, to Columbus, Ohio, and now he leaned in the doorway of a little diner and watched his prey pick up his water glass, survey the rim, and then wipe it with his napkin. Ronald Abbott, aka Rabbit, was born to be the perfect mark: pale, semi-chinless, and so smug about his superiority in all things having to do with money, art, and life in general that he was a sure thing to con. Which made it doubly annoying that he had taken all of Davy's money.


Excerpted from Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. Copyright © 2002 Jennifer Crusie Smith. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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