You know how this works, right? Housekeeping stuff first, then I'll tell you who won the free books, then I'll get to the review.
First though, I have to address something. We LOVE IT when you guys comment. We really do. We LOVE IT when you comment to win books. We really do. Please though, only enter each contest ONE time. It really is only fair to the other people, and to us. Before I draw names, I run a quick check to see if anyone enters more than once. If there are double, or multiple, entries, I take all of them out except one. So really, you're not helping your chances by doing multiples. You've still only got one chance to win each contest. With the fact that you can enter every contest, even if you've won in the past, it's really not out of the realm of possibility to win one of these things with only one entry. Trust me on this. Dead horse enough? Only one entry per contest, please.
That said, I need... HOPE... to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with her snail mail addy. Hope is the winner of the 'what extra vows' contest. Hope, you've won your choice of one of Whitney's older books, PLUS - Whitney is going to send you an autographed copy of her newest release, Testing Kate. I reviewed Testing Kate here, loved it, picked it as one of the best of 2006, and Whitney is signing it. Can't go wrong with that, huh? If you're not Hope, stay tuned for more chances to win, right here in this review, and later in the week as well. But let's get back to this one, Pushing 30, ok?
You know I don't do the whole BCC thing, don't you? That is so for the other Dee (notice the cap?). For me (little d, dee), BCCs just aren't my thing. But this one hits the nail on the head. If you want to read it, click over here, on Whitney's site. It's very accurate, and all the action on the BCC happens within the first few chapters. Nothing to get upset about, nothing to go "What total LIARS those BCC writers are!", nothing to make anyone mad. Just cute, to the point, accurate, and enough to make you want to read more. In short, pretty close to perfect.
Now first lines though... yeah, that's more my style. And this one has a first-line hook that snagged me but good. "The one thing you should know about me is this: I'm the consummate Good Girl." And me, always wanting to think of myself as a Good Girl (because hey, let's be honest, that just wasn't me in so many ways, but I wanted it to be me, you know?), wanted to learn more about Ellie Winters. She washes off her makeup every night, she mails out thank you cards, she hardly ever calls in sick to work if she's not really sick, she's never cheated on her boyfriend... the list goes on. So then I started thinking "Yeah, she can have being a Good Girl, thankyouverymuch. I'll enjoy seeing how she topples". Because really, you know she's going to topple, or there just wouldn't be any point of the book, right?
Ellie hates her job as a corporate lawyer. She feels dominated by her over-bearing pug, Sally. She can barely stand being around her family unless she's under the influence of a good bottle of wine, or at least a half-decent bottle of wine, but cheap wine will do in a pinch. She's tired of her boring boyfriend Eric. She runs at the first hint of any sort of conflict. Ellie takes "Good Girl" to an extreme, and not always in a good way.
Enter Ted. Ted Langston is a tv news anchor that lives right around the corner from Ellie. He's sexy, charming, interesting, and even loves Sally the pug. There's only one catch - Ted is older. No, not the difference between pre and post David Lee Roth older. I mean, he's older. About the same age as her parents. And he happens to be the one man in all of DC, ok let's be honest, probably all of the world, hat has no interest in dating a younger woman. That doesn't stop the sparks from flying between the two, nor does it stop all sorts of people trying to keep them apart.
Ellie has spent so much of her life avoiding conflict that you can sense it is about to catch up with her. And it does. Within a very short time span, she loses her job (thanks to an evil wench at work), one of her best friends (thanks to a new boyfriend), and the man that she's come to adore (thanks to coming home early from a family vacation). But it's what Ellie does with these losses, how she looks at them and sees where she is also responsible for these things, that really made me love her. She's not perfect. She may be a "good girl", but she's still got a long way to go before she's 'great'. She learns to take a stand though. She starts by standing up to her wacky family, and follows up with a spectacular scene with Ted. I was literally holding my breath as I read it for the first time. The way that Whitney described Ellie's internal struggle, her inner monologue, as she debated whether she would take her normal path of least resistance and leave to avoid conflict OR if she would, if she could, do the harder thing and stay, and face her fears and stand up for herself and fight for what she wanted... it was nothing short of magnificent. Check this out...
But I had run away, the way I always did at the first hint of conflict...it was what I'd done all my life. I never stuck around...never argued...it was what I wanted to do now...But at the same time...Had spending my life avoiding the conflict actually gained me anything?...I could feel Ellie's struggle. I struggled right along with her, and I'm not normally one to shy away from conflict. But I was living in Ellie's head right then, and I was just as scared of facing those lifelong fears as she was. That's the mark of a good writer - to be able to pull you into the head of a character, even when that character has very little in common with you.
The situations are, as usual when reading one of Whitney's books, very realistic. There is nothing over the top about this story. Nobody swoops in and waves a magic wand and makes all of the problems disappear by the last page. The way that this book is resolved had me smiling, a "big goofy falling in love smile", because it made sense. Ellie learned that it's ok to stand up for herself and fight for what she wants. It's even ok to ask for what she wants. But you get the feeling that it will take time for her to get used to her new skin. Just like when you make a life change, you put on that change a little at a time. That's real. Just like this story.
Whitney's debut novel gets a HUGE thumbs up from me. I loved it. I loved Ellie. I loved Ted. I even loved little dictatorial Sally. I'm pretty sure you will to. Pick it up. Check it out. Lose yourself in it. Then tell me if you agree or not.
Oh yeah, and for the contest... In keeping with the whole idea of facing fears, like Ellie learns to do... Tell me, in the comments of THIS post, what your biggest adult fear is, and how you learned (or are learning, or want to learn) how to deal with it. One random winner will be chosen from all entries. I'll announce the winner on Friday. The winner will get one (unsigned) copy of Pushing 30, and one SIGNED copy of Testing Kate. Because Whitney is cool that way.
And don't forget to go over here and comment to Chari-Dee, because she's offering a book as well.
Keep Turning Those Pages!