Reality Check

Reality Check

4.0 10
by Leslie Carroll
     
 

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IF LIZ CAN’T FIND “THE ONE”
SHE’LL TAKE THE MILLION.

Liz Pemberley is a smart girl with a weakness for bad boys, but for the first time in her life, her bad luck with men might just pay off. A hot new reality TV show called Bad Date is offering a million dollars to the singleton with the best story of romance gone awry.

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Overview

IF LIZ CAN’T FIND “THE ONE”
SHE’LL TAKE THE MILLION.

Liz Pemberley is a smart girl with a weakness for bad boys, but for the first time in her life, her bad luck with men might just pay off. A hot new reality TV show called Bad Date is offering a million dollars to the singleton with the best story of romance gone awry. There’s no one with a more dismal dating history than Liz and she intends to prove it . . . on national television.

Once she gets on the show, the unimaginable happens–she meets a really nice guy. And not only is Jack Rafferty nice, he’s also, sexy, sweet, and ready to settle down. But as contestants on Bad Date, they’ve signed a contract that makes fraternizing with each other a major no-no. What’s a girl to do? Of course she wants to win the prize money, but Jack is too good to resist. With her fate on the show hanging in the balance, Liz will risk it all for the one thing she has always wanted–the perfect man!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Funny, yet filled with cutting-edge wit, irony, and human foibles, Reality Check is a truly modern courtship tale. Definitely an author on the rise!”
Romantic Times

Publishers Weekly
Carroll (Miss Match) offers a tongue-in-cheek look at one of television's hottest trends in this comic contemporary romance. Frustrated with her job and burnt out on dating, Manhattan copywriter Liz Pemberley figures she might as well sign up for "Bad Date," a live reality game-show, and profit from her many misadventures with men. Her two lovelorn roommates follow suit, and miraculously, all three make it onto the show. The object: to relay your worst dating experiences and be the last one standing after the participants with the least objectionable stories have been voted off. The prize: one million dollars. Liz's witty and at times caustic remarks add spice to the show and the narrative, but her relationship with Miami restaurateur and co-contestant Jack Rafferty is the novel's true source of heat. Despite the couple's instant attraction, a no-fraternization clause in their TV contract holds them apart for a while, but there's never any question that they're destined to break the rules. Carroll strains the book's credibility by having Liz's roommates find love and lifelong happiness during the show as well, and the story's sheer number of coincidences will cause many to cringe (how likely is it that a New Yorker and an out-of-towner will run into each other in Manhattan?). Still, this cheery caper will strike a chord with readers who have had plenty of dating dilemmas. (Jan. 1) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804120005
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/01/2003
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.91(h) x 1.05(d)

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Read an Excerpt

1/The Contest

Are you perennially single? Do you want to make $1,000,000.00? Have your dating experiences been “doozies”?

You could be a contestant on

BAD DATE

The new reality-based TV game show coming to you this fall from the people who brought you last season’s hit series Surviving Temptation.

14 lucky contestants’ll share harrowing tales of their hard-luck laps on the dating circuit. Our studio audience will vote on who has the worst date of the week. If you’re the solo single standing at the end of the season, YOU WIN ONE MILLION DOLLARS Plus an all-expense-paid trip for two to romantic Paris, the City of Lights.

Auditions March 15 in NYC, Chicago, and LA Phone 1-800-Bad-Date for audition information. I was the first one to see the ad. It must have been a karma thing, as my roommate Nell would say, because I never read the New York Post. I’m a Times kind of gal, and these days I read even that on the Internet. Jem, my other roommate, buys the Post for the horoscopes. You would think a professor of communications at a local community college, a grown woman with a Ph.D. on her wall and three pairs of Manolo Blahniks (bought retail) in her closet would have more sophisticated journalistic tastes. Not Jem. I know for a fact, though, she reads more than the horoscopes. She reads all four of the tabloid’s gossip columns, too.

I’m a sharer, so I thought it would be unfair to my other apartment mates to leave a gaping gash in the newsprint and smuggle the ad into my room. Besides, it wasn’t like I was the only “perennially single” woman in the country, let alone in the city, to see it. I was convinced, however, deep down in that unknowable way, that the jackpot was mine, though in the great collective unconscious, that was probably the thought shared by every unmarried person in the contiguous forty-eight states within a three-thousand-mile radius of either coast.

“C’mon you guys, let’s audition! I think we’re all photogenic enough to be on the show,” Nell said. I thought that was mighty charitable of her since Nell is perfect. She even has a perfect-sounding name, Anella Avignon. Nell has the naturally straight honey blonde hair that every movie star on all those awards shows pays a fortune to replicate. She’s got a metabolism like a tiger shark and never needs to exercise. She’s also got a trust fund. Nell is drop-dead gorgeous and does absolutely nothing all day, but since she pays the rent on time, I can’t complain. She could easily afford her own apartment but she says she gets lonely and has a horror of ending up like a modern day Miss Havisham, wandering aimlessly for decades around a warren of overdecorated rooms, so she prefers the company of roommates. Nell is also one of the most generous women on the planet. Witness her complimentary remark about all three of us vis-à-vis this Bad Date show. Nell is perfect. A perfect blonde goddess. This morning I started to face it—I’ve got Venus envy.

“Nell, you don’t need the million dollars. Why would you humiliate yourself on national television?” Jem asked her.

“Well,” Nell said thoughtfully, gazing into the middle distance, “it’s something to do. Besides, Daddy’s fed up with giving me something for nothing.”

Jem and I gasped in tandem. “What?!”

“Since I’ve got to eat and pay rent, it means I may actually have to get a job,” Nell said sadly. “So if I win the million dollars then I can afford to do nothing. And still give half the money to charity if I want to.” Nell got that “epiphany” look in her blue eyes. “That’s what I would do. I’d throw charity balls with it. Dress up in an evening gown, meet rich, great-looking guys, and give a bunch of dough to the Fresh Air Fund or something. I could do that. I’m good at throwing parties.”

See, this is why I can’t hate Nell. She really is such a generous soul despite the fact that she mentioned the chance to dress to the nines as her primary motivation for giving to charity. “I’ve never quite understood how you can do nothing all day and not get bored,” I said.

“Well, I do nothing now,” Nell insisted. “It’s only until I find something I really like to do. I’d rather do nothing than something I don’t like.” She added, looking straight at me, “I don’t know how you can do that, Liz.”

“Because some of us don’t have daddies who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies,” I sighed. “And because people actually pay me money to write. Even though half the time these days I have zero belief in the product I’m writing the copy for . . . which makes it a tad hard to promote. And occasionally makes the client a little testy.”

“Yeah, well, I can see that,” Nell said helpfully.

I used to get a thrill out of coming up with an ad campaign from scratch, writing clever copy that would hook the consumer. Lately, though, I’d been getting my creative kicks by writing a parody of a Regency-era novel called The Rake and the ’Ho.

“I feel so soulless now, you guys. When I started copywriting, I enjoyed its creative challenges. There was an alchemy to it. Spinning words into gold. Smoke and mirrors. It was rewarding to know that my public service campaigns were reaching other people and perhaps making a difference in their lives. Maybe one more battered wife would seek help. Maybe one more mother would warn one more child about the dangers of ingesting lead paint. But over the past few months, every day I feel more and more like a charlatan. One of our clients—a very big account—household name—launched these little computer screens called ‘The Intelligencer,’ mounted inside elevators. The screens flash headline news, traffic conditions, weather, sports for the captive audience. A fifteen-word visual bite that changes every five seconds or so. Not even enough time to remember what you read, or enough information to make it truly useful.”

“You’re on your soapbox, girlfriend. It’s just a new form of communication,” Jem said. “What’s the matter with that?”

“The matter is that I was struck with how useless the product really is. My agency is being paid to pitch something that no one needs or would have even known they wanted if it hadn’t been invented. Complete manipulation of the consumer and a totally useless waste of technology.”

“So, if you won the contest . . .?” Jem asked me.

“I’d open my own cutting-edge ad agency that specializes in PSAs—smart public service messages for companies with a conscience. A million bucks would pay for the start-up.”

“Makes sense to me,” Nell said, dog-earing a page in her Victoria’s Secret catalogue. “This bathing suit wouldn’t make me look fat, guys, would it?”

Jem and I rolled our eyes.

“Honey, it could be down-filled and you wouldn’t look fat,” Jem answered her.

“Why would you enter this contest?” I asked Jem.

Jem may be the most hypereducated woman I know, but she’s finally—after years of psychotherapy—coming to terms with her name. “How can a black woman name her daughter Jemima?” she used to rant. The true genesis of Jemima’s name came when her mother saw the movie version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when she was pregnant. She fell in love with the name of the little girl, Jemima, in the film. But Jem claimed that she was stigmatized, traumatized, and every other kind of “-tized” for the rest of her life by the appellation.

Jem laughed. “I think it would be a damn kick, that’s why. And kind of an interesting experiment to be part of. From a sociological point of view.”

“What would you do with the money if you won?” Nell asked her.

“Get out of teaching apathetic college students who are taking my courses merely to satisfy a requirement. Not have to deal with the unwanted sexual advances of a department head who’s a self-professed warlock. I’d bank the money so I could afford to teach inner-city first-graders. Mold their sweet little minds; teach them to read.”

“You’re incredibly noble,” I told her.

“I mean it,” Jem said.

And that was how we all decided to shelve our dignity in the name of a commitment to community service and audition for Bad Date, the reality game show.

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Meet the Author

Native New Yorker Leslie Carroll is a professional actress as well as a novelist. She has appeared on stage, in short films, daytime dramas, and commercials, and has done voiceovers and talking books. She is the author of Miss Match. Leslie also writes historical and New York noir detective fiction, and is the author of three stage adaptations of nineteenth century/early twentieth century English novels: Ivanhoe, The Prisoner of Zenda, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Additionally, she is the dramatist of The Diaries of Adam and Eve, based upon the humorous writing of Mark Twain. Leslie is a member of the Dramatists Guild, both the national and New York chapters of Romance Writers of America, and is a third-generation member of The Players, the country’s oldest and most prestigious theatrical and literary social club. She is a graduate of the Fieldston School in Riverdale and received her bachelor of arts from Cornell University.

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