The Big Bad Wolf Tells All

Grade : B-
Reviewed by Ellen Micheletti
Grade : B-
Book type : Chick Lit
Sensuality : Warm
Review Date : July 3, 2003
Published On : 2004

I’ll admit I am not the world’s biggest fan of single-woman-in-the-city stories, but I always approach a book with the idea that I am going to enjoy it. In the case of The Big Bad Wolf Tells All, I did enjoy it.

Tanzy Harrington is a popular columnist in the Bay area, and the last single woman in her group of friends. She is not the kind of gal who sits around bemoaning her singlehood. No, she likes being single and is not at all ready to settle down. The way Tanzy sees it, there are two kinds of men: Sheep (married, safe, boring) and Wolves (single, dangerous, sexy). Why settle for a boring life with a sheep when you can run and howl with the wolves? Tanzy’s column on that topic has set the Bay area buzzing.

Tanzy’s adores her great aunt Millicent, a fabulously wealthy philanthropist. When Millicent asks Tanzy to house sit, Tanzy agrees since she loves Millicent and her beautiful house (Tanzy calls it Big Harry). When Tanzy comes to the house, she meets her aunt’s new personal assistant, Riley Parish. Riley is a Sheep personified. He has dull, ill-fitting clothing, terrible hair, and thick glasses. He’s very taciturn and oozes geekiness from every pore.

But of course Riley is neither a personal assistant nor a sheep. Actually, he’s a securities expert whom Millicent has hired to keep an eye on Tanzy, who’s been getting letters and e-mails about her column, including some very creepy e-mails from someone whose signature is SoulM8. Millicent knows about this, and she also knows that Tanzy is an independent sort; Riley has adopted the Sheep disguise so she won’t wise up to him. Actually, Riley is a former football player, and evidently not the best actor in the world since his disguise keeps slipping. To her surprise, Tanzy finds out that she likes some of Riley’s Sheepish ways as much as his Wolfish ones. But SoulM8 is still out there.

While I’ve read my share of Chick Lit, I can’t say I’m all that fond of the genre. I find most Chick Lit heroines too cool, flip, and immature for my tastes. I don’t demand perfection, but I can’t sympathize with 30+ women who are as immature as some Chick Lit women. That is not the case here. Tanzy is hip and has the requisite designer wardobe, but she is smart, kind, a good friend, and not scared to death of commitment. Yes, she wants independence, but she is wise enough to realize that falling in love does not mean she has to give up her very self.

Riley is great. He’s had to be the adult for a long time since his father isn’t the most mature man in the world. Riley’s had to shoulder the burden and be strong and, although he is powerfully attracted to Tanzy, he doesn’t want to take on any more obligations. But Riley is no whiner, and he doesn’t shut her out. They actually talk to each other, and come to see that although love fulfills them, it doesn’t obligate them.

While the love story in The Big Bad Wolf Tells All is quite wonderful, the subplot about SoulM8 is not so good. It disappears for long stretches and then is solved in the blink of an eye. I was never afraid for Tanzy and, frankly, the whole suspense bit could have been left out and I would not have missed it.

The Big Bad Wolf Tells All isn’t perfect, but it is one of the best mixtures of Chick Lit and Romance I’ve read in a long time. I love Barbara Samuel’s “hybrid” novels as well, but those have a more small-town/rural feel. If you like an urban setting, and want more romance in your Chick Lit, give this one a try. I think you will be pleased, even with the extraneous sub-plot.

Ellen Micheletti

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