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Fast Women

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Emotionally numb from her divorce 18 months earlier, Nell Dysart is about to waken with a vengeance. When she takes a job as office manager for McKenna Investigations, she`s determined to reorganize, redecorate, and revamp the stuck-in-the-`50s surroundings, but she runs smack-dab into senior partner Gabe McKenna, the immovable object to her irresistible force. Gabe likes the dated ambiance just fine and doesn`t want a thing changed, but he soon learns that nothing in his life is going to stay the same now that Nell has arrived.Rough and gruff, but with a heart of gold, Gabe is just what Nell needs tojump-start her hormones. Nell`s formerly dull life is suddenly wildly active, for not only is she lusting after Gabe (and vice versa), but there`s also a case of embezzlement to uncover, a dog to steal, and bribery to investigate. And, oh yes, there are those very cold, very dead bodies in the freezer.Fast Women has well-rounded characters, an interesting mystery to resolve, and author Jennifer Crusie`s trademark humor. In addition, Crusie gives readers a little something extra in her exploration of the emotional stages of divorce, the viability of marriage, and the value of self-honesty--all of which add up to an excellent fictional tale layered with a thought-provoking look at contemporary culture. --Lois Faye Dyer

448 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 1, 2001

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About the author

Jennifer Crusie

81 books7,263 followers
Jenny Crusie is the NYT bestselling author of twenty some novels and lots of other stuff. Her latest novel, Maybe This Time, hit shelves in August, 2010.

Jenny lives on the Ohio River where she often stares at the ceiling and counts her blessings.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 703 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
November 3, 2019
yeah, i'm surprised, myself. but it's a different kind of four-star rating. because while there were elements i thought were unsuccessful and dippy characters whose actions confused me, you don't sit down and eat a tub of frosting with a wooden spoon and then complain about the aftertaste.

i just don't usually have this much fun with the titles for the bodice rippers society. they are fine, but usually they are trying too hard to be sexxy, which is a total turn-off.

this one was goofier, and i think i responded to that, being that way inclined myself.

not that i am anything like any of the ladies in this book. i am not myself a headstrong woman who is attracted to a headstrong man and who considers an argument to be foreplay. i am not a young, bosomy blonde in a happy marriage to a considerably older man when i suddenly realize i am not, in fact, happy through the discovery of china egg cups with feet:

nor am i a drunk mystic or whatever-the-h margie was supposed to be.

this is what i imagine sex in the city was like, but with more murders and more noir set-pieces.it is a bunch of ladies sitting around talking frankly about vibrators and men, and their relationship problems, without admitting their own failures in these relationships. willful blindness FTW!!

because the women here aren't helpless victims to big bad unfeeling men. nell frequently oversteps her bounds in her new job as secretary of a detective firm - breaking shit, dog-napping, snooping and cleaning and forcing her interior design ideas on a man who has no interest in change. suze gets all bent out of shape over , seeming to forget that she secured this relationship which, ew. margie is a kooky alcoholic who never really seems all there, but will drop bombshells every once in a while. drunk waters run deep and all. her relationship issues are the least of her problems, actually. and yet, considered in the sober light of day, they are the most explosive.

this book operates in a world without consequences (okay, people get murdered, so there are some consequences for some people...) but here, a woman can with no shyness the next day. and here, a woman can which, trust me, in the real world, these things have consequences. awkward, long-lasting consequences. you can't un-see someone's genitals.

but again, this is frivolous fun, and it would be childish to elevate it and hold it to real-world realities.

it is simply a light genre-blend of mystery and romance which is genuinely funny in places.

and this is the moral i took from this story:

Tobias: You know, Lindsay, as a therapist, I have advised... a number of couples to explore an open relationship where the couple remains emotionally committed but free to explore extramarital encounters.

Lindsay: Well, did it work for those people?

Tobias: No, it never does. I mean, these people somehow delude themselves into thinking it might, but... but it might work for us.

where you substitute "open relationship" for "sleeping with the boss."

jennifer crusie, who knew???

come to my blog!
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,101 followers
March 20, 2013
my first contemporary (and heterosexual) romance. or in this case, a "romantic mystery". cute, fun, and even ocasionally interesting. the situations and attitudes depicted in this novel are so outside of my experience that at times i felt like i was reading a scifi novel. which was not a bad feeling.

do you live in a bubble?
interesting question. my first instinct is to say No, of course i don't. that's probably everyone's first instinct; who wants to live in a bubble, who wants to admit that? my friends are a nice diverse mix, racially and culturally and economically and in amount of education, type of work, even sexual orientation i suppose (hi, i'm the queer one!) i come from a working class background. i live in a big city. my work allows me to meet and get to know all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds. etc, etc. and yet while reading this i felt like i must live in some kind of bubble because this novel seems to rather blithely assume that the personal and romantic situations and entanglements on display are all familiar, normal even. but nope, not to me.

so did the ladies of the novel feel like aliens to you?
well i guess they sorta did. at least in their central situations and in the issues that were the most important to them. i don't know women my age who find their men by being their assistants or secretaries, who assume that a cute boss is a potential romantic interest, who have work lives that seem to regularly integrate work with playing the romantic field. i'm not talking about random hook-ups with co-workers; who hasn't had that, that's a part of life. but i don't really have any peers who define their lives by the men in their lives or whose romantic lives can be jump-started by the potential of romance at work. all that felt strange to me. not off-putting, just odd and rather off-kilter. is this how it is for a lot of women? or a lot of women of a particular socio-economic status, in a particular place and time in america or similar countries? i dunno. and the relationship to money also felt off-kilter to me. when i think of my older female relatives, the ones who may be most like the women in this novel, i think of independent women but i also think of women who are utterly financially dependent on their husbands. that just didn't seem like a serious factor to the women in this novel. so rather strange and rather alien to me, yes. but it wasn't strange in an off-putting way. it was fascinating! is this how normal people think and act? perhaps i should take Fast Women as a way to understand the normals.

did this feel like a real "romance", one with real people who make real mistakes and none of that bullshit that seems so typical in supposedly romantic fantasy scenarios?
yes it did! as foreign as the situations felt to me, the actual personalities of the four central characters (look, matching sets) were all rather wonderfully real. i loved the give and take in the central relationships. our heroine's thought processes felt nuanced and realistic and full of understandable errors in judgment and many moments of surprising empathy and many moments of the kind of cluelessness with which i'm all too familiar. i really appreciated the protagonist. maybe because she is an older woman, maybe because she is portrayed as attractive but recognizably flawed, maybe because she is a critical, well-meaning control freak Virgo like myself. i responded to her and came to truly understand her. i liked her. i liked all four of them. the banter and the arguments and the give-and-take between the two couples were - sorry to repeat myself - both out of some foreign land that i've never visited AND enjoyable in how there were no doormats involved. everyone gives as good as they get. no one throws themselves at anyone's feet in the moony, irritating way i've seen in various romantic YA or PNR novels. everyone is an adult who makes mistakes. refreshing!

have you ever made out with your friends? and isn't that weird?? and how about any serious repercussions to a one-night stand with a colleague?
- well, yes to the first question.
- no, not really, to the second. maybe i have less - ahem - uptight people in my social circles.
- and no to the third as well. maybe some awkwardness but hey that's life.
so when i came across those instances in the novel, i actually found them all to be thoroughly familiar and so those bits felt pleasantly real to me. they were some of the less alien moments in Fast Women. i'm glad they were included because they made the world of the novel feel more grounded in the kind of slowly but surely shifting of relationships that happen all the time between people of the real world. at least the real world that i know and live in.

Does Crusie urge readers to conceive of love as a process of mutual understanding and giving, to which honesty -- most of all with oneself -- is indispensable?
well yes, she sure does. well said, Miriam.

so in sum, i liked this pleasing little entertainment. an interesting window into a certain kind of world, likeable characters, and with a central message that i fully support. plus i learned a lot about different sorts of china.

nice one, Crusie.
Profile Image for Exina.
1,185 reviews376 followers
August 18, 2019
“This does not sound like lust.”
“Thank God.”
“This sounds like luv.”

Fast Women is an entertaining contemporary mystery romance. It is about a group of people, who in some sense are all connected to each other. These connections are so complicated that I had to write a list of the characters for myself. :)

The main characters are Nell and Gabe. Gabe is devilish and tempting, Nell is “gracefully efficient” and go-ahead. Nell enters Gabe’s life, and she rearranges not only his office, but his whole life, future, and helps to solve a long-unsolved case.

I loved this story! Loved Nell and Gabe, Suze and Riley, Chloe, Margie, and Marlene!
I loved it because this book is filled with comic situations, spirited characters, witty and lively dialogues, and so many emotions!
Riley, oh, he is soooo hot… I prefer Riley to Gabe… And there are such colorful secondary characters, Suze, Margie, Jase, Chloe, Lu, Linney, Becca the “Check-Out Girl”, Jack, …oh, too many…

The story is exaggerated and real at the same time.
Exaggerated, because it is packed with main and subplots, a mystery plot, secondary and tertiary characters, divorces, and lots of wives, murders, blackmailing, investigations, power-fights, quarrels, and secrets. The story also features important issues, such as friendship, family, love versus lust, marriage, adultery, faith, reputation.

Real, because it indicates that life is never black or white. You can be insecure, confident, you decide something, then you can change your mind. You may want something, but don’t know how to get it, or don’t dare to get it, or simply don’t know exactly what you want. It also could happen that you just don’t realize that you want it. Sometimes you are just chatting about crazy things, sometimes serious issues. You may keep things in secret, or blurt something important out unintentionally. You make mistakes, you can be hurt, then you forgive. Or take revenge.

Relationships and connections are complicated, even without murders and blackmail. The mystery plot adds extra excitement to the story, but Fast Women is a very enthralling novel even without it.
The story takes several months, and at the end, not everything is settled, but hopefully heading in positive direction.

There is only one thing I was disturbed by and I would be glad if it was omitted: the love relationship of Nell’s son Jase and Gabe’s daughter Lu. I felt it forced and hasty, because they are very young, and it is so weird that their parents are in love with each other too.

My favorite scenes:
☕ Nell’s interview
☕ the dachshund-napping
☕ the Icicles scene,
☕ When Nell, Gabe, Suze, Riley, Tim (Nell’s ex-husband), and Whitney (Tim’s wife) are having dinner together…
Gabe poured the last of the beers and said, "What shall we drink to?"
Nell looked around and said, "Good grief. Drink to me. I just realized I've slept with everybody at this table." 
Whitney tried to share a superior eye-roll with Tim, but he was still staring at Nell. She turned back to Nell and leaned across the table to her, looking condescending and amused. "That's really wild of you. Three men in, what? Fifty years?"
Die, bitch, Suze thought, and said, "And me." She held up her hand, and all three men turned to her on the instant, leaving Whitney with no audience at all. Suze beamed on the table impartially. "She's a terrific kisser.”

My favorite quotes.
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews4,021 followers
July 26, 2011
ALERT, ALERT, ALERT! I think I found one! A real romance novel that feels like a romance novel! It negated most of the problems I have with romance novels: that the people I'm supposed to like are assholes, that it all happens too fast and unrealistically, that the main characters spend all their time thinking about each others crazy crazy amazing bodies. And and and! Women's sexuality isn't fetishized as pure as the driven snow. Possessiveness happens, sure, but you know, when it's realistic. Not every relationship is dramatized to the utmost. Women can make a lot of mistakes, and as long as they are still smart, strong and sexy, all is well. AS IT SHOULD BE. Adults often talk to each other like adults, things take months to develop, there's realistic conflict of feelings and interests, the supporting characters have their own story lines and problems (which are also engaging, especially Suze's complex and morally grey deal) and the main characters do NOT live perfectly, happily ever after, but good things do happen to them. Nell ends up such a cool woman after starting out like death, and I cheered her transformation the whole way. The hero has his flaws, but they are believable, everyday ones, no more twisted than anyone else's. Not like, "My father never thought I was good enough to be a real Lord Blackraven, so I pretended to be a horrible person! Even though I am totally not and we shall now live happily ever after!" Yes, there is a bit of an over-the-top fetishization of noir stuff in here, and yes, I did have a teensy bit of a problem with the secretary-boss dynamic and arguing that this relationship was somehow different than all those other secretary-boss relationships. But Crusie acknowledges the problems with that and works through it.

It made me smile, it made me laugh, and it made me go, "hell yes!" when a few awesome things happened. This is a novel about two recognizable people getting through each day of life who get together and have a relationship. That sounds like it should be the whole romance novel genre, but sadly most incarnations I read are really about social status or going quietly mad. This is about a romance. I really appreciated that.


This has been a public service announcement. We will now return to your regularly scheduled programming.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,005 followers
May 3, 2021
OK, they're not really fast exactly, but c'mon, they only have fragile little stumpy china legs.

The Walking Ware may be only a metaphor (a pretty obvious one), but these women are Potato Sack Race fast, not Florence Griffith Joyner fast. They are like people who come out of comas and must slowly learn to walk again. Only, most of them seem to have never known how in the first place.

Suze seemed in some ways to have the most excuse for her retardation: she married an older man whom she met while still in high school, and has never had to make a decision, must less work, and therefore has never developed interests or identity outside her marriage. It's understandable therefore, that she has a hard time admitting even to herself that her marriage is stifling; instead, her desire for escape and growth manifests itself in her obsession with “Walking Ware,” china with running feet. When her friend introduces her to the Walking Ware, “Suze lined up the running egg cups in a line and laughed. There were nine of them…all running hell bent for leather for someplace else.” She imagines the cups “running amok among the Spode,” the grimly painted heirloom china she is forced by her husband’s family to use, of which she says “I get very depressed looking at my china.” Having decided to buy some egg cups of her own, Suze “felt immeasurably lighter. She was going to have to get a job now. She had a future that didn’t involve going to school and waiting for Jack to get home. She was doing something.” At this point Suze has just begun to admit her own discontent with her sheltered life and has not yet realized that her husband is one of the things she is unhappy with.

Nell, the main character, is pretending to be amicably divorced by denying even to herself that her husband cheated on her after using her for years to support and build his career. Now that his business is successful, he has traded her in for a younger and more attractive model. Although Nell is not to blame for the divorce, her sorrow reads more like a combination of bruised ego, financial anxiety, betrayal, and loss of stability than the rending heartbreak of having lost a deeply loved spouse. Her personal grief at the seems more wrenching. But she really liked that stuff; her marriage seemed more of a purely practical investment.

Crusie’s implicit criticism of the financial aspects of marriage is reminiscent of sociologist and philosopher Erich Fromm’s (whom Crusie cites in her critical writing) indictment of the objectifying view of love which approaches it as the purchase of best possible commodity (i.e. getting the most wealthy, prestigious, or attractive partner available given one’s own “exchange value” of attributes). Fromm argues that many people mistakenly conceive of love as being an easy, emotional reaction or a matter of sexual or material desire: “What most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.”

This is a theme addressed in many of Crusie's novels -- the temptation or pressure to let relationship choices be guided by financial advantage, social or familiar pressures, or other non-emotional factors. Like Fromm, who asks and answers, “What does one person give another? He gives of himself…of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of sadness… In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person,” Crusie urges readers to instead conceive of love as a process of mutual understanding and giving, to which honesty -- most of all with oneself -- is indispensable.
Profile Image for Neha.
46 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2012
*****MINOR SPOILERS!!!********

1. Was anyone else REALLY disturbed about a 40 year old men having sex with an 18 year old high school student in a motel? And people looking at that photo and talking about how "in prime" Jack looked and NOT how it was a few months away from being statutory rape?

2. OMG that whole convo about Gale understanding why men HIT THEIR WOMEN? Are you F-ing kidding me? Um, men don't hit women because "they love them so much they can't have them leave, but they can't stay with them either" - it's because they are abusive assholes who get off on attacking women who are physically and emotionally damaged.

3. How ridiculous was it that Sus gave Tim a whole speech about infidelity and lack of loyalty...when she herself was a mistress. Usually, this is the part where people suddenly realize their own hypocrisy, but she just...didn't.

4. I didn't think that Nell and Gabe had any type of real romantic connection or chemistry before they started having sex. The minor characters all randomly realized they were destined for each other, without any type of real reason. I was sort of rooting for Nell and Riley.

5. What was the point of Marg? And the whole China story?

6. When Gabe says "I know somebody's gotta sleep with my daughter, and it might as well be you". Um, a 19 year old does not NEED to be having sex.

7. The whole mystery and murder story just became too convoluted and crazy and hard to keep track of. Judging from a few of her other books, Cruise needs to stop with the whole attempt to include Law and Order-esque plot points. They suck.

Profile Image for Karla.
986 reviews1,094 followers
November 27, 2014

3 Stars! Too much going on and it was hard to keep track of, at least for me.

Usually this author's writing works for me, but unfortunately this won't go on my favorite read shelf. That's not to say it wasn't amusing and somewhat entertaining, but in the end, there were too many side stories that got in the way of the original plot, and I didn't enjoy it the way I wanted too.

On the plus side, the narrator Sandra Burr was a pleasure to listen to.

Profile Image for Linda .
1,809 reviews255 followers
August 17, 2019
With some snappy dialogue, an overload of secondary characters and a kidnapped dog, Fast Women was downtown quirky.

As is typical in Crusie’s romances, the heroine, Nell, drove the hero, Gabe, crazy. Their sexual tension was a plus. I found myself caught up with their families, friends and work which were often intertwined. It was an extremely busy plot with some light suspense.

Fast Women was a feel-good CR perfect for summer. Even better, if read between heavier stories. Gabe and Nell’s relationship was just this side of sizzling. Yum!

Thank you, Mela, for recommending this romance.
Profile Image for Evelyn Bryant.
189 reviews5 followers
November 5, 2011
Not my first Cruisie book , but I believe it will be my last. I have heard good things about this author and have tried to read her. First off, I liked the fact the characters were not 20 somethings, formula, etc. I liked that Nell was attempting to move on past the bumps in the road that life had dealt her. I have no clue what purpose her best friends served. They were all three annoying ,tiresome women. Who would get a job they apparently need and set out to antagonize the boss? I can see cleaning the office but the lengths she goes to, go beyond slapstick to stupid. Why does she disregard his feelings and opinions about HIS business? These women should have been named Ditz, Delirious and Dimwit! Nell's antics may have been intended to be humerous, but are not. If these women were real I would not want to know them. She deserved to be ditched by her husband and he made a wise choice. I felt sorry for the men, particularly Gabe and Riley. Why would women have sex within their own circle then disregard that and move on to next person within that same circle who just happens to be related to the first person. And what the heck was that lesbian encounter about. Arrrrrggg. These women are not lesbians so why even add that. And if they are why are the men EVEN IN THIS BOOK??? It makes no sense. One suggests they "tryst" while eating lasagna and ice cream. Why? No clue.... I'm done with Jennifer Cruisie. She disappoints.
Profile Image for Tracy.
630 reviews21 followers
April 27, 2021
This was delightful.

Reread April 2021. Still a lot of fun. Nell is a 42 year old divorced woman, having a really hard time. She forgets to eat, everything around her is shades of grey. She comes back to life after finding work as a temp at a detective agency that turns into a permanent job. She pisses off her boss a lot but eventually they work things out. She makes some mistakes along the way but grows as a person and then after several months realizes that the thing she has with her boss is true love. I liked Nell, I liked Gabe and I developed a lot of fondness for Riley and Suze. Margie was weird and I’m not sure if I liked her, but family is family. This is another novel I read because for a time it helps me forget how fucking shitty everything is.
Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,779 reviews12.8k followers
November 13, 2014
I had reservations when my mom told me this book was funny because she likes a lot of books that I end up finding corny. Or worse, funny because they're trying too hard. But in this case, my mom was right. This book is hilarious. I don't often laugh-out-loud while reading, but I did more than a few times while reading this. The female protagonist, Nell, can be a little hard to connect with at times, and this is written for a generation of women ahead of my own, but even with that, I found I was able to connect with them and, even though I didn't necessarily agree with their choices, I understood why those decisions were made. The hero, Gabe, is just the right mix of charm, obliviousness, and stubborn insanity that I was able to like him despite himself, and the supporting cast was great. My favorite character was Margie.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,937 reviews1,549 followers
April 21, 2014
Gabe and Nell are awesome and the story was a lot of fun as well. I was a bit put off by the sex outside the main couple (both sleep with someone other than the main romance storyline during the course of the book, though both instances pull back pretty quick and happen early). I didn't realize that that would be a thing until I read it, but it turns out I'm not a fan—and yeah, I'm still trying to parse out why that bothers me and what aspects of it make a difference.

A note about Steamy: despite the title and the above complaint, this is still a mid-level Crusie explicit content—a few scenes of moderate length.
Profile Image for Sundae.
20 reviews
October 10, 2011
Horrible. I stopped reading half way through.

I don't know, I'm guessing I"m not the target demographic for this type of book because I found it extremely hard to relate to any of the characters. Being in my twenties, my humanist side roared with indignation at how appalling all these women acted and behaved, not to mention, the stereotypical ways all the men were portrayed. They were all manipulative, dysfunctional, and stupid people trying to do the "right" thing but actually doing the WRONG things all the time. Instant gratification is all they fucking cared about, having a dignified and deserved place IN someone else's life is all they cared about, but these women refused to do anything for themselves by themselves and instead expected everything to be handed to them equally. Insult to women everywhere.

And who the heck talks about china that much? This is not the 60's where you worth is measured by the type of china you have in your cabinets. And Nell, what a horrible, manipulative person. You're a secretary and you want half of a business that someone else worked to build for 22 years and you think you deserve in seven months? it was horrible.

Bad plotting and horrible themes aside, the book had many mistakes (missing words), wasn't written well, wasn't in the least bit funny, had too many useless characters and kept dragging. Ugh. bad taste in my mouth.

Profile Image for Christy.
Author 5 books389 followers
June 27, 2010
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the central characters a lot, and it made me happy. There is humor in this book and an approach to love, romance, and marriage that is grown-up and realistic while still maintaining a sense of fun and optimism. This isn't the kind of romance novel where the leads spend the whole book trying to avoid having sex and then when they do it's just happily-ever-after. They have to work at their relationship. They have to negotiate with each other to get what they need, to avoid hurting the other person, and to learn from their past mistakes. They grow as people and will continue to grow after the book ends because that's just what people do and, as this book acknowledges, the best relationships, the ones that work and that last, leave space for that kind of growth.

There is no rape in this book. There are no man-roots or honey-ovens. Sex isn't always tied to true love, but it isn't used as a punishment or a means of control, either. This is a sex-positive book.

Finally, there are positive female relationships and meaningful male relationships. A huge part of the book, in fact, revolves around the central female characters' friendship. They support each other, joke with each other, and do far more than simply talk about men or sex. There is also at least one significant male friendship, one in which the men talk, at least sometimes, about things that are important to them personally and in which they defend each other against others who don't understand or who would hurt them. On both sides, this makes the characters more likeable and believable and shifts the focus away from fulfillment through a romantic or sexual relationship and toward a broader sense of what defines and fulfills an individual (not just sex, but work, family, friends, hobbies, pets, etc.).

The only major complaint I have about this book is that I think the title gives the wrong impression of the kind of women Crusie is writing about.
Profile Image for Jim son of Jim (formerly PhotoJim).
604 reviews107 followers
January 21, 2010
I'm not sure if I liked this or not.

What I did like: Some people have sex for stupid reasons. Some people have sex with people you don't think they should. Strong women. Columbus Ohio (where I live). Some amusing banter.

What I didn't like: All men are not bastards. More than I ever wanted to hear about china patterns. What's with freezers? Weak women. Somewhat incoherent plot. A couple of totally unreal characters (Chloe anyone?).

So some good, some bad. Overall a light and fun read by an author I usually turn to for fun and light.
Profile Image for Mela.
1,464 reviews185 followers
August 3, 2019
I adore Jennifer Crusie's romances. They are hilarious and mature. Besides, there is an action (I got lost for a moment a few times after some plot twists), interesting characters, some mystery and quite a bit about love and life (not in the fairy-tale version but like in the real world where nothing lasts forever). Not all of her books gave me as much fun as this one. Nonetheless, Jennifer Crusie is one of my favourite writers.

PS And I admire that she can create such enjoyable romances where most of the characters (including main) are forty, fifty, sixty years old. She shows how interesting and funny can be their love stories.
Profile Image for Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo.
620 reviews178 followers
June 21, 2014
3.5 Stars

This novel is quirky and hilarious! The writing style is good overall, but I did
get confused at times by some of the dialogue - loss of 1/2 star. Gotta love those Dysart women!

Nell Dysart is sleepwalking through her life as a divorced woman. She didn't see it coming. And now she needs a job. She sits in Gabe McKenna's office at his detective agency and thinks of ways to fix it, all the while she is breaking a window, his chair arm, and poking a hole in his Oriental rug. McKenna hires Nell as favor to one of his biggest clients - Nell's former brother in law much to his chagrin. They are both kissers, strong alpha types, and are attracted to each other. Gabe has just been dumped by his ex-wife yet again. His partner and cousin, Riley, is tired of doing decoy jobs and has a hard on against Nell's best friend, Suze. Margie Dysart is another whole lot of crazy. All 3 women are some how connected to the O and D blackmail case and possibly a 20 year old death.

When Nell gets to work on the office and the partners, O and D instructs the cousins to stop their investigation. They don't and the murders begin. And love is in the air, dog nabbing, arson, and everything else you can imagine.
Profile Image for Siria.
1,792 reviews1,308 followers
July 2, 2008
I quite liked this one, as it was frothy and fun but still somehow realistic—Crusie is good at setting up relationships between both the main and the secondary romantic couples which don't rely on external forces to create angst and drama, but rather at showing how repeated patterns of behaviour can ruin relationships without any outside help. I also liked the fact that Crusie is always happy to show her female characters taking genuine pleasure in their food, but not in a neurotic way, and that her heroine is into her forties. There was one thing which niggled at my subconscious, though, and which made my eyebrows rise when I realised what it was: one character with a walk-on part was African-American, and I think in all the Crusies that I've read so far, she's the first character who hasn't been white. Hrm. How much of that is a function of setting (I'm not from the US, but the impression I've gotten is that the Mid-West, where these books are set, is terribly white?), I wonder, and how much is, well, good old white obliviousness?
Profile Image for *The Angry Reader*.
1,374 reviews304 followers
October 14, 2018
I wanted something to take Susan Elizabeth Phillips' spot as my go-to read. When everything and everyone is too much and too stupid and too aggravating an SEP book renews my faith in humanity. But. BUT. I only have two SEPs left unread. I'm going sloooooooowly with these last two. I don't want to have read everything she's written. That will be an end to an era - and something for which I'm not ready.

While Jennifer Crusie's stories and characters aren't like SEP's stories and characters there is that same kind of comfort. It's like "oh, I'm safe here. I'm going to be entertained. There won't be stupid characters or insulting writing or plots that seem as far-fetched as fantasy novels." If SEP is chicken n dumplins, Crusie is pot roast and mashed taters. Delicious. Comforting. Perhaps not the most exciting thing I've ever eaten, but I'm gonna want it over and over again.

Now I have a big ole stack of Crusie on my nightstand. It seems I read Bet Me in 2015. But I don't remember it. Still, I liked it wayyyyy back then. (See my review here).

I have a few ARCs coming up. Plus I'm still reading Muse of Nightmares I/2 of my book of the year. The Crusie held up nicely against my slow savoring Muse read. Which means I'll be reading her again ASAP.

Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books71 followers
June 17, 2014
I love this writer. I’ve read everything she published and I subscribe to her blog. This re-read (it was originally published in 2001) gave me enormous pleasure and induced several laughing fits.
The story starts with the protagonist, Nell, coming to a job interview. She is a divorcee, still reeling from her husband’s betrayal after their 22 years of marriage. Her interviewer and potential employer, Gabe, owns a PI agency and he needs an office manager.
He picked up her resume. “Why did you leave your last position?”
“My boss divorced me.”
“That would be a reason,” he said, and began to read.
The traditional start to this romantic caper is a camouflage. The story unfolds like a crossroad, leading in several nontraditional directions at once, all interlinked by their inventive creator, Crusie. It’s a comedy, so funny at times I couldn’t read because I laughed too hard. It’s a thrilling mystery with a number of frozen corpses, hidden boxes, and mysterious villains. It’s a story of female friendship and collector china. And above all, it’s a love story: it explores how love starts, how it matures, and how it ends.
Both protagonists, Nell and Gabe, are strong, assertive people. As they go about their day-to-day business: managing office or investigating clients, they fall in love. But love is not enough for a successful union, not for them. A couple must learn to compromise, to respect each other and accept each other’s foibles. And they both are old enough to know it.
To the reader’s delight, the process of such learning for Nell and Gabe is crammed with distractions: an embezzling former employee, YA children and former spouses, old family secrets and friends with marital problems.
This marvelous romp of a novel is written beautifully. About 80% of the text is dialog, and Crusie is definitely a master of dialog. Her snappy and hilarious one-liners or involved and smart verbal expositions propel the plot forward so swiftly, the reader gets a moving sickness just by keeping up. The story twists and turns and whirls around, and the reader can’t close the book until she knows what’s behind the next bend.
The little quote above is just a small snippet of the writer’s clean and witty writing style. There were so many other quotes I wanted to include they wouldn’t fit in a regular size review. I ended up including none of them. Read the book instead.
One of the subplots concerns Nell’s friend Suze and her collection of Carlton Walking Ware egg cups. The concept was intriguing enough that I Googled it. Below are a few pictures of the walking egg cups – they are real, alright. Quirky too, just like the story.

Profile Image for Marleen.
1,741 reviews95 followers
August 27, 2020
Many years ago this was my first Jennifer Crusie book. Loved it then. Still love it now. Gave it a solid 5 stars at the time. I still enjoy re-reading it. Of course, now after my 4th re-read, and listening yet again to the Audio version - so many years later I've become a little more critical. Now I think it's a little bit too much "out there" and there's too many crazy people in the story, but that also makes the book's charm.
I just adore the sizzle between Gabe McKenna and Nell Dysart: they are irresistible!
My very favorite character is definitely Riley. Gosh! He's the most sane person in the book! ;-)
Profile Image for Marleen.
1,741 reviews95 followers
August 27, 2020
It's always good to return to "Fast Women" as it is like comfort food to me. This book is a bit like a slapstick movie, and the characters of Nell Dysart and Gabe McKenna are golden, so are the secondary characters, all very important. I love the office of McKenna Investigations, where Nell quickly uncovers her predecessor's embezzlement of the cleaning money and sets out to get it back, then she steals back a dog for a former owner who doesn't want it returned. Gabe, who keeps the business running only as a homage to his father, is perturbed by Nell's enthusiasm, but even his ex-wife recognizes that Nell is good for him. And the two do set off sparks in spite of Gabe's efforts to douse them. Of course, they also have to contend with murder, blackmail, arson, and the stolen dog, which accompanies Nell dressed in a trench coat. Truly a wonderfully entertaining read. It's one of Crusie's best.
March 23, 2013
After Nell Dysart divorced her husband of 22 years, she lost her appetite for everything. Because her friends, Suze and Margie, are worried about her, she gets a job as a secretary at Gabe McKenna's detective agency. Of course, Gabe's biggest clients are also all the men who are or once were in Nell and her friends lives, so it's not like she's getting too fresh a start. Gabe's agency starts looking into a blackmail case involving those men, and things start getting very complicated.

This makes it sound like the book is mostly about Nell and Gabe, but it's not. There's Riley, Gabe's partner in the agency, who's been pining over Suze for years. Of course, she doesn't even know he exists, and she's married. Things start getting rocky with her husband (Jack) because he wants her to stay home and look pretty and not go out, get a job, and have a life that doesn't involve him in every aspect - by the way, Suze was once "the other woman" when Jack was married to his second wife. Then there's Margie, who's dating a guy named Budge. Margie drinks a lot because Budge wants her to marry him and that's not what she wants to do. Technically, she's still married to her husband, who left years ago and may be dead, but if she declares him dead then she won't have a convenient excuse for turning down Budge. Also, back to Nell and Gabe, it's not like things are going perfectly for them either. Nell and Gabe fight a lot (and have a lot of make-up sex, but that's not the point) because they're both stubborn as hell. Gabe doesn't want any changes in his life and his agency, and Nell wants to redo everything at the agency and sees any sort of giving in as allowing him to use her as a doormat. Remember, however, that Nell is the secretary, and really, truly should be getting Gabe's approval and input before changing things and replacing furniture instead of railroading over him.

Granted, I haven't read many Jennifer Crusie books (I think this is my fifth one), but I'm used to her books being funny, romantic, and frequently heart-tugging and exasperating at the same time. I'm not used to her characters being annoying, rigid, and generally unlikeable, which is how I viewed the characters in this book most of the time. Basically, Riley came off as the most emotionally healthy character, and he was the one dealing with his feelings for Suze by dating/sleeping with anything female (like an undergrad, or Nell). Gabe's resistance to change was understandable, at first, but it got really annoying when he continued to resist even the changes that made sense. Nell acted like a bulldozer in Gabe's agency, and (because of her divorce) she was left with the impression that giving in a little is the same as letting yourself get walked on. Suze is a doormat who thinks she needs a man in her life in order to be complete, and she feels this so wholeheartedly that she's willing to give up having a life of her own in order to have a man around. At first I thought Margie was a bimbo, but it turns out that she was just a perpetual drunk with no tact.

None of these characters started to feel like people I'd actually want to get to know until maybe 50 pages before the ending of this 400+ page book. This wasn't the enjoyable, relaxing reading experience I was expecting when I plucked a book with "Crusie" on the cover off of a public library bookshelf. In her dedication, Crusie wrote "For Valerie Taylor, because she tells me when my scenes are boring, my syntax is twisted, and my characters are jerks..." Apparently, Ms. Taylor had her work cut out for her if this is the characters after they were made to be less like jerks, and maybe she should have also been working on telling Crusie to make her characters less like wet washcloths.

I don't think romance novel couples have to be perfect and have perfect relationships in order for them to be fun to read about. I do like for there to be something pleasant about their relationships, though. In addition, it probably didn't help (for me, anyway) that all or most of the characters were older than the usual romance novel age, which means they were old enough to be my parents. For example, I think Nell's son was a little over 20.

So, if I disliked the book this much, why did I keep reading it?
- Jennifer Crusie wrote it, so I was hoping it would get better.
- Some of the information about china that Suze, Nell, and Margie were talking about sounded interesting, even if I think Crusie could've edited those bits down more. The Walking Ware and Running Ware sounded like fun, though.
- Marlene, the dachshund, was interesting. My family has a dachshund, and, even though he doesn't flirt and act abused for biscuits, he does flirt for belly rubs.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
913 reviews401 followers
March 12, 2013
Meh. I was really hoping for more.

I was hoping this would be like a good Susan Isaacs book, something along the lines of Long Time No See or After all these years. Meaning yes, a light read with some romance and a happy ending, but also a mystery and unconventional main characters I'd actually meet, or would want to meet, in real life. I think Jennifer Crusie was trying for that effect and while I acknowledge some limited success, overall this book didn't make it for me.

We meet Nell, a beaten-down fortyish divorcee, who is applying for a job with Gabe's detective agency. Gabe is also fortyish and conveniently unattached, and the minute any peripheral character acquainted with both Nell and Gabe hears about the interview, he or she immediately predicts that Nell and Gabe will end up together. How about hitting me over the head a little more with that foreshadowing, Crusie? I mean, this is a romance novel after all. How could they not end up together? But sure, put the prediction into another three characters' mouths why don't you.

It does take a while for Nell and Gabe to end up together, which I guess was Crusie's attempt to avoid falling into total Harlequin territory. But once they do, that's it. The romance (and Nell and Gabe's intermittent catfighting which could only, of course, be solved by more romance) was straight out of any wish fulfillment drugstore novel. He's every woman's dream! And he thinks Nell is beautiful! As do lots of other guys, suddenly! (One of my pet peeves in these types of books -- the female author slipping into the male viewpoint only so she can put words into his mouth about how bowled over he is by the heroine). He's great! She's great! Even their fights are great! We can pretend they're not Mary Sues by giving them some charming quirks, but they're still Mary Sues.

The mystery seemed silly and over-the-top to me, as did the ridiculous dognapping episode. As another goodreads reviewer said, Nell suffers from serious bouts of TSTL -- too stupid to live. Some of the dumb stuff she gets away with is just ridiculous. I also agree with some reviewers who pointed out that there's a serious retro quality to this book -- the women's lack of independence seemed a bit anachronistic, although unfortunately I do know people who struggle with these issues so I don't want to come down too hard on that point.

I'm not such a snob that I can't enjoy a good chick lit novel. But for me, this was not a good chick lit novel.

Profile Image for Hannah.
287 reviews35 followers
March 1, 2012
I'm giving this book four stars, not so much because I loved it, but because it had a strong emotional impact on me. Fast Women was not an easy book to read. It contained some heartrendingly-accurate descriptions of the pain, the anger, the self-doubt, and the exhausting circular thinking that attends the end of a marriage. Even though I was exasperated with almost every character in this novel at one point or another, I could identify with almost all of them because they were struggling with the same emotions and concepts that I've struggled with before in similar circumstances.

Fast Women was a departure from the kinds of romance novels I've gravitated toward in the past. I usually prefer my happily-ever-afters a little bit tidier. This novel's ending, while very hopeful, didn't quite leave me with warm fuzzies. On the other hand, the character's emotions and dilemmas were so complex and so believable that I will probably remember this book long after I've forgotten some of the other more "satisfying" romances I've read.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,173 reviews421 followers
October 18, 2022

I swear, Jennifer Crusie keeps climbing higher and higher up my favorites shelf. Her dialogue! And characters. Good is way better than perfect, and bad is often better than both. People are screwy and screwed up and grumpy and complicated and funny and noble in the weirdest ways. There are some real nuggets of wisdom here, and not the trite kind. The kind that come from the mixed-up, messy realities of life. If you can do that and then put bodies in freezers and make me laugh out loud, I’m in.

“She means well.”
“Which is about the worse thing you can say about anybody,” Riley said.
Profile Image for Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew.
1,100 reviews127 followers
January 3, 2016
The first half of this shapes up really well - The Maltese Falcon on speed.  Crusie does unresolved sexual tension very well, with a good line in resolving it too.  There's a complicated murder investigation going on in the background, which I think I followed.  Points deducted for the fact that too much time is spent on secondary characters at the expense of the MCs' story, and for some strange conflicts introduced into the MC story at the end.  Less is more, sometimes.  But - it's Crusie and so worth the read.
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