Apr 20 2007
Dear Ms. Dean:
I thought the premise of your story was quite fun. An average girl decides to pen a self help book on how to pick up guys, provocatively titled “The Average Girl’s Guide to Getting Laid.” In the process, she gains self confidence and a man to die for. Overall, the story is a good one but hampered by some convenient and tiresome plot devices.
Ellie is a travel writer who pitched a sex book on a dare. The book is supposed to be about “empowering women, meeting their needs, and helping them get what they want from men.” Of course, Ellie doesn’t know anything about that. She’s like a virgin sex therapist. Only not a virgin, but inexperienced and unconfident. Basically no one is less qualified to write this book than Ellie which makes me wonder why the publisher even bought it. Okay, employing the old Suspension of Disbelief.
Her agent loved the idea and sold it. Now Ellie has to deliver. She moves to New York for a month to “research” her book. She’s very much the rube in the big city at first, intimidated by the size of the city and shocked at the high prices for food. However, while eating a giant pickle, Ellie gets hit on by one very hot guy, Marius Asher.
Ash hasn’t had sex in a while and has only dated casually since the break up of a serious relationship months previous. Despite her inhibitions, Ellie engages in flirtatious banter with Ash that ultimately leads to Ash giving Ellie her first big O. But Ellie, as much as she is intrigued by Ash, recognizes that this relationship is only physical and she has to get more content for her book. Ash is reluctant to get into any relationship as well as his mother left him as a child and Ash tends to believe that any woman is a “leaver.”
The best part of the book was when Ellie was doing research for her book. I loved seeing her gain confidence through success. She became adept at the flirtatious banter; her entries into her book were smart and fun and I eventually believed that her “guide” would be both empowering and helpful. I also liked the parts where Ash was coming to grips with his own inability to commit and his need for love.
The problem was the character arcs. Ellie’s was drawn out interminably. Ellie is a MASS of insecurities. Ash has to constantly reassure her of her beauty and desirability yet Ellie is portrayed as the ideal woman. She is full of breast and butt. She loves to cook. She cleans up after you. She enjoys watching action shows and is very low maintenance. Even though Ash lavishes attention on her and her abilities to pick up guys is stellar, she still wonders at her attractiveness. There was a point where Ellie’s behavior veered to the point of being unacceptable to me and I had to put the story down. I almost didn’t finish reading it. Ash was just inconsistent. One minute he is fantasizing that Ellie will be freaky in bed and then next he is pondering her “pearly” toenail polish.
Some parts of the book were extremely wordy providing details that I wasn’t sure of the point such as the exact way that Ellie made chili or pork chops (i.e., what pan, how the onions were cooked, and so forth). The story also had extraneous characters that popped up here and there but never played any significant role in moving the protagonists forward.
I wasn’t quite sure if the novel was supposed to be a lighthearted look at Ellie’s path toward being confidence or Ash’s path toward trust and faith. It’s not that I don’t think that two different character development arcs can take place in one book, it was that these two arcs were so different that the two weren’t harmoniously intertwined. While I would read another book of yours, this one didn’t fit me well. C