What the Lady Wants

What the Lady Wants

3.6 83
by Jennifer Crusie

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Nothin' like a dame . . .

Mitch Peabody was learning pretty fast that the life of a private detective was not all it was cracked up to be. Cheating husbands, suspicious wives, unsuspecting mistresss — case after case left him cynical and disillusioned. This was nothing like the world of tough-talking detectives and smart-mouthed, stunning dames he'd


Nothin' like a dame . . .

Mitch Peabody was learning pretty fast that the life of a private detective was not all it was cracked up to be. Cheating husbands, suspicious wives, unsuspecting mistresss — case after case left him cynical and disillusioned. This was nothing like the world of tough-talking detectives and smart-mouthed, stunning dames he'd envisioned . . . until she walked through the door.

Right down to her stilettos, Mae Sullivan was a knockout with a lethal body — and a lethal family to go with it. There was something not quite on the up-and-up about her, but she came with a case he couldn't afford to refuse . . . and left him with a case of lust like he hadn't had since high school. It didn't take long for him to fall for her, hook, line and sinker. But was Mae only interested in catching the double-crossing crooks who murdered her uncle . . . or did the lady want to catch him?

Editorial Reviews

Wonderfully fresh, funny, tender, outrageous . . . Crusie is one of a kind.
Kirkus Review
Cruise....seems incapable of writing a boring page, or one that's not aglow with the sparks of with and romance.

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What The Lady Wants

By Jennifer Crusie

Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Copyright © 2002
Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.

ISBN: 155166951X

Chapter One

Mae Sullivan frowned up at the grimy old office building and shifted from one aching spike-heeled foot to the other, trying to keep the weight off her blisters. From the looks of the neighborhood, her chances of getting mugged were only slightly greater than the chances of the building falling on her. Only a loser would work in a place like this.

Good. It hadn't been easy finding an incompetent private eye on such short notice in a midwestern city like Riverbend. But now there was Mitchell Peatwick. She could picture him, leaning back in his office chair, balding and overweight, slack-jawed and beady-eyed, no brains to speak of.

He'd patronize her because she was female. She'd play him like a piano.

All she had to do was convince him that he was investigating a real murder case, and he'd swing his paunchy weight around, creating noise and confusion until whoever had taken her uncle's diary would be forced to either give it up or bury it forever if he didn't want to be accused of murder. Yep, that was all she had to do. So go do it. She took a deep breath and winced as the waistband of her borrowed pink skirt cut into her flesh. Then she pulled the veil on her hat over her eyes and walked toward the cracked glass doors of the old building, watching her reflection as she climbed the steps.

Even through the dumb pink veil, she really did look sexy. It was amazing what clothes could do.

Now, if she could just get this damn interview over with before the waistband of June's skirt cut her in two and June's heels made her lame for life, she'd be on her way to solving all of their problems.

Please let Mitchell Peatwick be dumb as a rock with a weakness for women in tight skirts, she prayed as she rang for the elevator. Please let him be everything I need him to be.

* * *

The window behind him was cranked wide-open, and the ceiling fan above him stirred the air, and Mitch was sure if he got any hotter, he'd die. As it was, he was pretty sure that the only thing that kept him alive was the fact that he wasn't moving. If he moved, his body temperature would rise, and he'd melt right there in his office chair.

He didn't want to move, anyway. He was too depressed to move. He leaned back in his cracked leather desk chair - sleeves rolled up, hands laced behind his head, heels crossed on his battered metal desk - and thought about the way he'd planned things and the way they'd turned out. Big difference there. Anticipation was a lousy preparation for reality. That's why he was giving it up for fantasy. Fantasy was not particularly productive, nor was it lucrative, but it beat reality hands down.

Reality sucked. Fantasy was leaving a prosperous career to become a private detective. Reality was regretting it. He closed his eyes and tried to recapture the dream, the part where he'd be the Sam Spade of the nineties. Then the elevator cables rumbled across the hall and Mitch knew another divorce job was coming his way. He hadn't had many illusions about relationships before, he thought sadly, but he had absolutely none now. Even the people who weren't married had him investigate to see if the people they weren't married to were telling the truth. And of course, they weren't. That was the one irrevocable truth Mitch had learned in a year, the only thing, he realized now, that he'd taken away with him.

Everybody lied. Sam Spade would have understood that part, but he would have spit on the divorce work. Mitch had the uncomfortable feeling that he should be spitting on it, too, instead of making a precarious living at it. Too precarious. He had one week left in the year, one week to earn the last of the twenty thousand dollars and win his stupid bet and go back to his regularly scheduled life, but to do that he needed a client who would shell out $2,694 before Friday.

It wasn't going to happen. Prying money out of clients was the second least favorite thing he'd learned about this job.

So when he heard the elevator cables rumble in the hall opposite his office door, he didn't leap to his feet with enthusiasm. It wasn't just because the heat would kill him if he moved. It was also because it had been a long time since he'd done anything with enthusiasm, and he'd forgotten how it worked.

If I was Sam Spade, this would be Brigid O'Shaughnessy. The ancient ceiling fan creaked above him, and buttery sunlight spattered over him, and in spite of himself, he began to feel optimistic again. Maybe hope wasn't dead yet. Maybe this was a Brigid heading his way, a woman uninterested in marriage and commitment, willing to seduce him to get what she wanted.

He was sure as hell willing to be seduced. She would come into the office, cool, slender, lovely and lethal, in one of those white suits with the wide lapels and a tight skirt that was slit to the hip. She'd have incredible legs. And maybe she'd be wearing a hat over her glossy red curls, a dark veil that dusted over blue, blue eyes and a straight little nose above moist, pouty lips. And in between the lips and the legs would be the best part. Her jacket would be tight under her breasts. Round breasts. Full, round breasts. High, full, round breasts.

With an effort, Mitch pried his mind off the breasts.

And she'd come in and say, "I need you to find the Maltese Falcon," and her voice would be throaty and soft. And somewhere along the way, she'd take off her hat, and they'd have passionate, steamy, slippery, sweaty sex ...

Mitch lingered for a moment on the sex.... and then he'd find out that she'd been the guilty one all along. "I won't play the sap for you, baby," he'd say, and they'd take her away for murdering his partner. Okay, he didn't have a partner unless he counted Newton, and nobody ever counted Newton, but still.... No wonder that book was a classic. Sam Spade got to nail her without a commitment and still feel good about himself when he dumped her. First, great sex, and then he walked out on her, free as a bird, a hero instead of a schmuck.

Now there was a fantasy. Then the door opened, and he looked up, and she came in.

Her hair was dark brown, and so were her eyes behind the veil, and her suit was pink instead of white, but everything else was pretty much his fantasy. The nose, the lips, the ...

"I'll be damned." With enormous effort, Mitch raised his eyes from her breasts to her face.

"Probably." Her low voice reverberated straight into his spine. "Are you Mitchell Peatwick?"

"Uh, yeah." Mitch swung his feet to the floor and stood up, wiping his sweaty palm on his shirt before offering her his hand. "Mitch Peatwick, private investigator. Listen, did you ever read The Maltese Falcon?"

"Yes." She ignored his hand as she surveyed the dingy office, her pout deepening as she took in the cracks in the upholstery and the dust. "Is this really your office?"


Excerpted from What The Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie
Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Crusie has written more than fifteen novels and has appeared on many bestseller lists, including those of Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY and the New York Times.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
B.A., Bowling Green State University, 1973; M.A., Wright State University; Ph.D., Ohio University, 1986

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What the Lady Wants 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
LTB88 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I'm a fan of most of Jennifer Crusie's work. She hasn't put out many recently, so I was happy to see something new. I was absolutely ticked when I realized upon receiving it, that it's an old book...and not a very good one at that. The old Maltese Falcon theme is old and worn out. The characters aren't even that likable. I keep most of my books, but this was one I'd gotten rid of because it was lame. So it really ticks me off when I find out I bought the stupid thing again. Don't waste your money...especially twice. If you happen to like the Maltese Falcon theme, check it out from the library or come by my house...I'll give it to you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed J. Cruisie's humor. But this was a waste of money. It may be worth reading if you borrow it from a friend or library, but don't buy it. Many of the parts that might be humorous are mirror images of situations in her other books. I was in need of a really great read and this was a let down.
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Lindsie More than 1 year ago
"What the Lady Wants" by Jennifer Crusie is a good novel. Although it reminds me of Janet Evanovich's novels, I still enjoyed it and got through it quickly. Mae and Mitch seem like a match- but it takes a lot of obstacles to get Mae's family to allow her to be truly happy. And not only that, Mae finds herself in a mess when she realizes her uncle has been murdered. As Mitch comes to the rescue, family quarrels ensue, and trouble is all around Mae. Will love bloom even through the obstacles that they face? Read the novel to find out! C+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Mitch and Mae. The private investigator and the girl who hires him to find her Uncle's missing diary. But she doesn't think he will take the case of just a missing diary so she makes a the story a little more intriguing by adding that she thinks her Uncle was murdered. Mitch of course takes the case but isn't sure he believes her because as we all know everyone lies. She has a crazy family and the two of them seem to annoy each other at every turn. But what happens when they start to fall for each other? You will have to read to find out. This wasn't one of my favorite Jennifer Crusie novels. Good characters with yes you guessed it a little love thrown in. The book starts of pretty slow and it seems that most of the romance and suspense all took place in the end. So if you can make it through about the first half of the novel you get a really intriguing suspenseful romance novel. We all know that my favorite part of any story line is the love story and I feel that the romance part of this book was rushed. I would have liked to see a little more of Mae and Mitch's relationship. I still gave it three hearts/stars because in the end the book delivered for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book at all. I could not get back to it because it was not interesting. I had to make myself finish it. Most of her books are about 150 ebook pages and I believe it was about 100 pages before there was any romance in this book. It went from barely any attraction to unrealistic love in a couple pages and the lines were corny and so not real in any sense. I did not feel the characters were that developed at all, the romance was not descriptive or developed. The title is wrong. The story was sort of predictable and dull. I am so glad I checked this out on my public library and did not buy it. I love J.C. books but this one, i felt was a different author as it was so unlike all the others I have read.
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GHott More than 1 year ago
Both Mitch and Mea have a bit of a problem, they've modeled the life of a PI after Sam Spade's in A Maltese Falcon. It's really funny to watch them try to determine if they are playing out as Sam & Brigid. Mitch is doing his best to get his PI business in the black and only living off the income - not an easy feat. Mae is trying to figure out what has been going on in her home the last few months. Mae is a ward of her uncles. The one whose home she grew up in has just died and nothing is going well. This is the best of her books that I've read thus far.
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Heidi Ambrose More than 1 year ago
It was a good quick read but took me a little longer than some of her other books to get into.
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