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Some Nerve
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Some Nerve

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by Jane Heller

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Celebrity journalist Ann Roth has one last chance to prove herself.

Unlike her colleagues at Famousthe L.A. magazine—Ann doesn't pick through people's garbage and would never pervert the truth. But her editor thinks she's too nice—and unless she does something drastic, he's going to replace her with a killer journalist who


Celebrity journalist Ann Roth has one last chance to prove herself.

Unlike her colleagues at Famousthe L.A. magazine—Ann doesn't pick through people's garbage and would never pervert the truth. But her editor thinks she's too nice—and unless she does something drastic, he's going to replace her with a killer journalist who's more willing to get down and dirty to get a story. When airplane-phobic Ann's scheduled interview with actor Malcolm Goddard falls apart—after the surly, notoriously media-averse celeb insists he'll answer questions only while piloting his Cessna—she finds herself abruptly unemployed . . . and headed back to her tiny Missouri hometown to heal and regroup.

As luck would have it, the great Malcolm shows up in little Middletown under an alias—a patient at the local hospital—and Ann recognizes a golden opportunity to reclaim her career . . . and score some payback in the process. First she'll volunteer at the hospital, then she'll befriend the laid-up screen star and secretly worm the story of a lifetime out of him. If she proves she's everything her editor wanted, she'll certainly get her job back. But how much is she willing to risk for her career? Her conscience? Her ethics? Her heart?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ann Roth, 30, is living it up as an entertainment reporter for an L.A. celeb-gossip rag, hobnobbing with stars as she chases down the latest "big get" in Heller's latest entertaining romp (after An Ex to Grind). But trouble looms when the next big get turns out to be the famously grouchy, media-hating actor Malcolm Goddard, whose unwillingness to talk costs Ann her job. She moves back to her small Missouri hometown and gets a surprise second shot at her career when a (perhaps too) incredible coincidence sees Malcolm delivered incognito to the local hospital. A former classmate of Ann's who is now a hospital bigwig (and who has the hots for Ann) tries to impress her by sharing the secret of Goddard's presence. She scores face time with the actor by signing up for the hospital's volunteer program, which leads to unforeseen complications of the heart. Though Heller has a tendency to sum up the morals of her story in pat sentences ("The patients at Heartland General were beginning to teach me just how lucky I was"), she makes up for it with quirky, hooks-in-you prose. The ending is an inevitably happy one, but the road to it is full of twists and turns. (On sale Sept. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Heller (An Ex To Grind) fuses the seemingly unrelated worlds of celebrity gossip magazines and volunteerism. Ann Roth is a 30-year-old small-town Missourian who relocates to Los Angeles to take a job as an entertainment reporter for Famous magazine. In trying to land an interview with actor Malcolm Goddard, a man who considers reporters parasites, Ann pulls out all the stops. But her fear of flying prevents her from boarding Malcolm's Cessna, and she is fired. She returns to Missouri to regroup; in a strange twist of fate, that's where Malcolm ends up to undergo treatment for a heart condition. Ann knows Malcolm is coming before he arrives and secures a position as a volunteer at the hospital to get close to him. With Ann pretending not to be Ann and Malcolm pretending not to be Malcolm (he's assumed an alias to elude the press), they really hit it off, but will their relationship survive when Malcolm finds out what Ann is up to? This is a fun and fast-paced read with a likable protagonist who has her quirks but ends up finding her life's true calling and her perfect match. Recommended for all public libraries.-Karen Core, Detroit P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hollywood celebrity journalist loses her job but finds herself when she returns to her hometown and becomes a hospital volunteer. After being accused by her editor of lacking the killer instinct necessary to land a story, Famous magazine writer Ann Roth pulls out all the stops to land the ultimate "get": an interview with talented but surly A-list actor Malcolm Goddard. Her plan backfires when Malcolm, who despises the press, finally agrees to the interview on the condition that phobic Ann conduct it while riding with him in his private plane, which he will pilot. Unable to do the Q&A, she is promptly fired. Returning to Middletown, Mo., Ann intends to lie low while plotting her way back to Hollywood. Then a chance meeting with a high-school classmate reveals that Malcolm is scheduled for heart treatment under an assumed name in, of all places, her local hospital. To get another shot at the actor she blames for wrecking her career, Ann becomes a candy-striper. She gives out magazines, befriends her sick charges and slowly starts to realize that, hey, it feels good to help people! She also gets close to Malcolm, who has no idea who she is. She discovers that the handsome movie star with the Russell Crowe-sized chip on his shoulder is, deep down, a nice guy with a few trust issues. Malcolm, for his part, believes he has met a sweet, unaffected Midwestern girl who will love him for himself. It's a given that they fall for each other, leaving Ann to decide between her big story and true romance. The far-trickier issue in Heller's latest Cinderella story (An Ex to Grind, 2005, etc.) is how on earth Ann will reveal her deception to the man she cares about before he finds out onhis own. Flawed heroines are a mainstay of this genre, but clueless Ann is often more annoying than endearing. A breezy, if implausible, love story.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Some Nerve

A Novel

By Jane Heller

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Jane Heller

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060599278

Chapter One

Things weren't going so well for the country that winter—the stock market was slumping and gas prices were rising and our soldiers were still at war—but they were going very well for Britney Spears, who was pregnant with her first child. She described the experience as "freaking awesome" during the two hours we spent together at her recently purchased nine-thousand-square-foot Malibu beach getaway, and she confided that sex with her husband, despite her swollen belly, was "crazy good."

No, the Britster and I weren't girlfriends sitting around having an af-ternoon gabfest, although there were moments when it felt like that. I was
a thirty-year-old reporter for Famous, an entertainment magazine in Hollywood, and my beat was interviewing celebrities. Britney was an assignment for a cover story. She's generally viewed as a product rather than a talent, but she had a sweetness about her, I found, a giggly openness, and I enjoyed my time with her.

I enjoyed my time with all of them. I loved the feeling of gaining access to their private realms, loved trying to figure out for myself what it was that made them special. I'd been fascinated with famous people since I was a kid in Middletown, Missouri, a tiny place in the general vicinity of Kansas City. They were royalty to me—the beautiful ones with thebeautiful clothes and the beautiful houses and the beautiful companions—and they were my escape from what was a dull and dispiriting childhood. I dreamed nonstop of fleeing Middletown and landing a job in L.A., and I'd made the dream come true. I'd really done it. So you could say that things were going very well for me too.

Well, you wouldn't say it if you're one of those snobs who thinks it's only news if it's on PBS or NPR. In fact, you're probably rolling your eyes right now as you picture Britney telling me about her morning sickness, her fluctuating hormones, and her cravings for pickles and ice cream, but I considered myself the luckiest woman on earth to be doing what I was doing. I could have been stuck in Middletown, where people get their kicks experimenting with different brands of snowblowers, eating casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup, and needlepointing pillows with bumper-sticker-type sayings on them, and where the biggest celebrity for a while was the guy who was cleaning his rifle and accidentally shot himself in the balls. I was bored out of my skull there, logy with the sameness of it all, convinced that if I stayed I would end up like my father, who died a slow and agonizing death, or like my mother, aunt, and grandmother, a trio of phobics who were too afraid of life to take risks and live it.

By contrast, I felt healthy in L.A., empowered, energized by the constant whirl of activity and by the people I met, most of whom were colorful and creative and the opposite of dull. I mean, I was attending movie premieres, film festivals, and Oscar parties, mingling with Clint Eastwood and marveling at the merry band of women who bear his children, waving at Penélope Cruz and admiring her ongoing battle with English, exchanging friendly glances with Meg Ryan and wondering why she looks so much like Michelle Pfeiffer now. It all seemed so glamorous to me, so Technicolor, especially in comparison with the grayness I'd left behind. Rubbing shoulders with exceptional people made me feel exceptional by osmosis.

Yes, the city was my oyster or, to be more L.A.-ish about it, my sushi. I had Leonardo DiCaprio's cell phone number, for God's sake. (Okay, his publicist's cell phone number.) It doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Not for me. Not then. When you grow up yearning to be in the orbit of movie stars and then actually hang out with them, albeit in the service of helping them promote their latest project, it's—well—freaking awesome.

And as far as I was concerned, there was nothing cheesy or demeaning about my career. I mean, I wasn't one of those tabloid creeps who picks through people's garbage. My methods weren't exploitative or intrusive. I had scruples. I didn't resort to underhanded tactics to score an interview. I didn't have to. I was a hard worker and a good reporter. The new and notoriously temperamental editor of Famous, fifty-year-old Harvey Krass, had been expected to clean house and bring in his own writers when he'd taken charge the previous month, and though he did fire some of the staff, he'd kept me on. I assumed it was because of my straightforward approach to the job, my integrity. He hadn't said as much—he wasn't big on compliments—but the fact that he'd asked me to stay at the magazine spoke volumes.

So, yes, things were going very well for me. I was living my dream, as I said.
And then, suddenly, a jolt.

Not an earthquake, although there was a cluster of tremors that winter. No, this was a much more internal, life-altering shift. A radical change in direction that sent me into an entirely new phase of my life. I went from Gutsy Girl to Gutless Wonder and back again, and what I learned from my journey was this: It's possible to be chasing the wrong dream and not know it.

"Good morning," I trilled to Harvey on Monday at nine twenty-five. His assistant had summoned me to his office for a nine-thirty meeting, but I was always early for things, unlike everybody else in L.A., where traffic is an extremely reliable excuse for being late for things or for missing them altogether. I'd been raised to believe it was rude to be late, and I certainly wasn't about to be rude to my new boss.

"It isn't good at all!" he shouted, brandishing a rolled-up copy of what appeared to be In Touch Weekly. "This rag and its evil twins are eating into our sales and it's gotta stop! Right here! Right now!"


Excerpted from Some Nerve
by Jane Heller
Copyright © 2006 by Jane Heller.
Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

Jane Heller promoted dozens of bestselling authors before becoming one herself. She is the author of thirteen books including An Ex to Grind, Infernal Affairs, Name Dropping, Female Intelligence, and Lucky Stars. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she is at work on her next book.

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