Monday, September 26, 2011

You will love The Whole Package! Book Review & Giveaway

I devoured Cynthia Ellingsen's The Whole Package in about three nights--staying up way too late because the novel was such a great read! Cynthia stopped by Rockland Mother as a guest blogger last month and I have done you such a disservice in not reviewing the book until now. You are going to want to run out and read it immediately!

Berkley; Aug 2011
The story: Doris, Cheryl and Jackie are three almost-40-somethings who have been best friends since high school. Life hasn't turned out as expected for any of them: Doris, once a wild and talented soccer player, is now a prim wife, living with a unhappy husband and an ungrateful teenager daughter. Cheryl, who is divorced from her husband after she cheated on him, flits from guy to guy and works her ass off at a male-dominated marketing firm where sexual harassment is the in thing. And, Jackie, once a very promising artist who happened to married a rich older gentleman, has fled to Paris after his death to process her loss.

After Jackie receives a call from her lawyer informing her that her husband's money has run out during her time in Paris, she returns to Illinois to find her friends both in the middle of their own catastrophes: Doris' husband has left her to "find himself" on the seat of a motorcycle and Cheryl is fired from the company she helped build after her boss snoops through her files.

Drowning their sorrows at a local male strip club, the girls have a great idea--why not open a Hooter-inspired restaurant for women called The Whole Package? Why should men have all the fun? Bring on the Adonises in thongs serving goat cheese and apple salads!

Before I get carried away and give away the entire story, let's just say that the rest of the book has to do with the women trying to succeed at opening their restaurant and trying to put their lives back together. And, man, did I have a fun time following these three girls around. They fight and make up, make mistakes and figure things out, just like real girlfriends do. And Cynthia has a way with flirting/sex scenes--I really felt giddy reading them. Nothing too raunchy, but just so so sweet and sexy.

I also loved the pair of gay characters in the book, and one gorgeous man, especially, who helps Doris out or her style doldrums (and doldrums of the heart too). And, there were more than a few scenes that made me laugh out loud--like a geriatric woman dancing suggestively on a chair.

My only tiny problems: the final line of the book seems out of character for a few of the men and something happens to Cheryl at the end of the book that really is more of a big deal than it is made out to be (you will recognize it when you read it, especially if you are a mom).

Thank you Cynthia Ellingsen for such a fun read and thanks to Penguin for providing me with the book to review! I really hope there is more to come from this author soon. Until then, I will remember the characters in The Whole Package fondly, take some of their lessons learned to heart (mainly, you must take care of yourself first before you can love those around you fully), and remember certain scenes in front of a fireplace with a smile.

Leave a comment below by October 3rd to win a copy of the book!! Winner must be in USA or Canada.