Don't expect to see Fabio's flowing mane on the cover of any of Jennifer Crusie's romance novels. She completely eschews the tradition of overwrought melodrama and heaving bosoms to toss a comic gauntlet into the romantic arena. Her fun, funny, and frisky books are a refreshing breeze in a genre that could easily grow stale.
Former schoolteacher Jennifer Smith got her Master's degree in Professional Writing and Women's Literature at Wright State University. She wrote her thesis on women's roles in mystery fiction before trying her hand at penning romance novels using her grandmother's family name Crusie. Despite her impressive credentials, she dismisses her debut novel Sizzle as "lousy" even as her fans clamber to gets their hands on this long out-of-print pulp romance. "That damn book is following me around the way early porn films follow actresses," so says Crusie one her web site of Sizzle.
No matter what the author thinks of her first effort, the astounding string of critically lauded bestsellers that followed it have firmly established Crusie as one of the very best writers of contemporary romantic fiction. Much of this is due to her sharp wit and ear for comedic dialogue, humor being an element often sorely missing in romance novels. From the sly private dick tale What the Lady Wants to the frantic Faking It, Crusie's books contain the perfect balance of suspense, snickers, and steamy love scenes.
What's more, the author has raked up a slew of awards, as well as spots on "best romance novels of the year" for Anyone But You, Temptation, Fast Women, and Faking It. Getting Rid of Bradley scored Crusie a RWA Rita award for Best Short Contemporary Fiction, and in 1996, she received a career achievement award for her work in the romantic comedy genre from Romantic Times magazine.
Now, after 13 crowd pleasers and award winners, Crusie is offering up her first-ever collaboration. She teamed up with hard-boiled action writer Bob Mayer (Operation Dragon-Sim) to conjure up Don't Look Down, a wacky escapade that is equal parts comedy, adventure, and playful erotica.
In Don't Look Down, movie director Lucy Armstrong goes toe-to-toe and heart-to-heart with J.T. Wilder, a green beret who serves as an advisor on a movie that is taking an unexpected turn from romantic comedy to blow-‘em-up action flick. Publisher's Weekly has declared the joint-effort "good fun," and Crusie reveals on her website that more fun with Mayer is on the way. The team is currently working on their second novel together Agnes and the Hitman.
As for future solo ventures by Crusie, there's plenty more in store. She not only has another release slotted for 2006 -- a sexy yuletide novella titled Hot Toy, which will appear in St. Martin's Press' Santa Baby anthology -- but she currently has no less than five additional projects on the burner. Among these upcoming releases are a collection of short stories and a book that Crusie is particularly qualified to create: a guide to writing women's fiction.
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Crusie and Bob Mayer are making things a little easier for guys who want to check out their new collaborative novel Don't Look Down. All you have to do is remove the cutesy dust jacket to reveal a tough-as-nails camouflage cover design and voila! No one will ever know you're enjoying a romantic comedy.
Crusie is the proud owner of three dogs, one of which is named Lucy. Oddly, the main character of Don't look Down is also named Lucy -- and happens to be a director of dog food commercials. Coincidence?
Crusie has a few nonfiction works to her credit, including introductions in Totally Charmed, a collection of essays about Alyssa Milano's cult TV series, and Anne Rice: A Critical Companion, which the author wrote under her given name of Jennifer Smith.
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