A DATE YOU CAN’T REFUSE by Harley Jane Kozak

Book Quote:

“Handsome, by the time we’re done, you’ll buy me a gun range, a bowling alley, and a yoga garden. But first show me the artillery”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Guy Savage (APR 26, 2009)

Special: Author Interview

Have you ever had a friend who’s so accommodating to others that her life becomes messy and out-of-control? If you’ve known someone like this, then you understand all too well that the old cliché, “she’s just a girl who can’t say no” extends far beyond the notions of sexuality.  Wollie Shelley, the heroine and amateur sleuth of author Harley Jane Kozak’s novels, is one such person. She’s “nice” in the traditional sense, and with a complete lack of caution, she approaches the world as she sees it–with far too much trust. Guileless and easy-going, she demands too little from her personal relationships and her life quickly becomes cluttered with the unreasonable demands, expectations and behavior of those who are drawn to her.

A Date You Can’t Refuse is the fourth novel from author Harley Jane Kozak to feature serial dater, minor TV celebrity, and “alternative” greeting card designer, Wollie Shelley. Wollie (which is short for Wollstonecraft) made her fictional debut in Dating Dead Men, followed by Dating Is Murder and Dead-Ex. A Date You Can’t Refuse begins with Wollie sitting on a jury that finds in favor of the defendant in the case of Lucille Lemon versus MediasRex Enterprises and its CEO Yuri Milos. After the verdict is read in court, Wollie is offered a job by the charismatic Yuri–a handsome man who admits he has a “rather big crush” on Wollie after seeing her on the reality show Biological Clock (Dating is Murder) and the “equally cheesy talk show” Soapdirt (Dead Ex). It seems that Wollie is a “large hit in Belarus” and that she has quite a fan base in “Moldavia, and Slovakia. And Ukraine.”  In spite of an extremely generous and somewhat vaguely intriguing job offer, Wollie declines.

Enter the FBI in the shape of slimy Agent Bennett Graham. He coerces Wollie into cooperating with the Feds’ current interest in Yuri’s activities and persuades her to become an FBI informant. Wollie accepts Yuri’s generous job offer in order to get the scoop of the shadier aspects of Yuri’s global business deals. She soon finds herself living 24/7 in Yuri’s Calabasas compound where as part of the MediasRex team, she is supposed to entertain and train various athletes and entertainers from Eastern Bloc countries and teach them how to behave in American celebrity culture. This process of “transformation” is, according to Yuri, worth $50,000 for 3 months. There are drawbacks to this lucrative arrangement. Wollie has to live inside Yuri’s guarded compound where there is little privacy and little phone access. Here, according to Bennett Graham, Wollie is supposed to spy on her employer and report back using the cover of a yogurt shop to leave information.

Wollie, who is a guileless as a newborn baby, is supposed to snoop, plant listening devices and wheedle information from Yuri, his family, his grumpy housekeeper and his colorful guests. Feeling conflicted loyalties, Wollie isn’t exactly “double agent” material, but she manages to stumbles onto information when she discovers that her predecessor, a popular model named Chai died in a highly suspicious accident. In addition to Wollie’s amateur sleuthing activities, she also has to ward off questions from her some-time lover, FBI agent, Simon Alexander. With their relationship reduced to sweaty trysts in the back seats of cars or hurried humps in mall parking lots, Simon has the audacity to make demands of Wollie while still maintaining his distance and placing some rather suspicious restrictions on their relationship.

A Date You Can’t Refuse is the best Wollie adventure to date. Laugh-out-loud funny, this hilarious novel follows Wollie’s blunders as she attempts to lead a double life while she acts as a babysitter to huge Moldavian boxer Zbiggo, herds various celebrity clients through the perils of L.A., and wards off the amorous intentions of an overly excitable gun-nut who wants to show Wollie a good time over a collection of assault weapons.  Light, good-natured and just a fun read, this is the perfect book to distract and entertain.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 14 reviewers
PUBLISHER: Broadway (March 17, 2009)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Harley Jane Kozak
EXTRAS: MostlyFiction author interview
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Yes, more Harley Jane Kozak reviews


April 26, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Humorous, Sleuths Series

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