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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Name Dropping by Jane Heller

Two women with the same name living in the same Manhattan apartment building? It could happen -- and does -- in Jane Heller's seventh novel, a breezy summer read as clever as it is comic!

Preschool teacher Nancy Stern is in a personal and professional rut. But what really puts a dent in her self-esteem is the realization that another woman named Nancy Stern has just moved into her building ... a Nancy Stern who lives in the penthouse ... a Nancy Stern who interviews celebrities for glossy magazines ... a Nancy Stern who's chummy with Harrison Ford. Nancy's loss of her own specialness deepens as she keeps getting the other, more glamorous Nancy's mail, phone calls and party invitations by mistake. It's all too much to bear -- until a man calls one night, intending to ask the other Nancy out on a blind date. In a moment of madness, Nursery School Nancy accepts, and what follows is a raucous tale of mix-ups, murder and mistaken identity. Leave it to the wickedly witty Jane Heller to come up with a story of a woman whose humdrum life turns out to be anything but.

I thought the concept of mistaken identity in this book would have been a great plot to pursue, one that would have provided readers with many laugh out loud moments, amused smiles and just a plain good ol' time. Apparently not. Granted, the book did have its moments, but nothing to the standard I thought it could have had.

I wasn't captured by the heroine, Nancy, nor her side kick friend Janice, who encouraged Nancy to take the leap of faith and go on the blind date with Bill Harris, full knowing that the invitation was meant for the other Nancy.

The hero, Bill Harris was handsome, charming and much like the man many women would like to find their HEA with. Although, at the beginning I found his character a little too strong for my liking, perhaps a little too keen. Which, I think is rather strange of me, since I live for heroes to woo their heroines. In this instance, when Bill was dating Nancy, (as the Other Nancy) in the beginning, I wasn't swept away by his keen attraction for her. I thought it was cute that he was slightly insecure in his pursuit of her and very honest, but I felt no *spark* for the hero.

But, I do have to say that towards the middle, the book did pick up for me. I enjoyed seeing the plot unravel, the mystery of the murder, Bill's protective nature towards Nancy, the pursuit of the bad guys and finally finding out why something about Bill Harris didn't quite add up. And I have to say, that I'm probably superficial because once I found out that my hunch about Bill was correct, my interest in him did increase a notch.

Overall, I thought this one was okay. Not bad, but not over the moon great. Some places I thought the book fell flat but other areas were able to pick it up a little, but not enough to warrant a spot on my keeper shelf.


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