Summary: Alice Amorous, daughter of the Queen of Romance (novels), has been living a lie for so long, she doesn't know how to stop. Her famous mother is in a mental hospital, so Alice signs her autographs, takes her phone calls, and tells everyone her mom's overseas researching her hotly anticipated next book. She lives alone, watched over by the elderly tenants of her four-apartment building who help her keep her secret, and attends online classes. She's terrified of making new friends, even with the cute and sweet Skateboarder Boy she's got a crush on, because letting people get close means the lies could unravel. She's got it all under control...until the money runs out, the hospital bill comes due, and her mother's publisher asks for their $100,000 advance back! On top of that, a strange and annoying guy who claims to be the real Cupid is following her, insisting she's destined to write the story of his love affair with Psyche. Desperate to stay afloat and cover up the truth, Alice decides to indulge him under one condition: that she can claim the novel is her mother's latest effort so she doesn't have to pay back the advance.
Verdict: Funny, frothy, sweet cure for the common teen novel.
Yay!: The heroine will take you by surprise. She's functioning as an adult, but has the mind and emotions of a teen, and is barely holding things together. She misses her mother terribly, and when Cupid begins projecting thoughts into her head, she panics because she thinks she's inherited her mother's mental illness, a common worry among families of mental patients. At the same time that she's sensitive, she's sensible. I wanted to applaud when she kept turning down the creepy/hot bad boy Cupid (read: the typical hero of YA paranormals), especially the passage when she reflects that she doesn't want a bad boy, but someone she can trust who won't freak out when he learns the truth about her life.
The supporting cast is great fun: Realm (nee Lily), the granddaughter of another tenant, is obsessed with publishing her horror novel "Death Cat" and blackmails Alice into helping. Cupid is NOT what you'd expect from the god of love. For one thing, he insists he was never a god, but a punished servant. He's clingy, creepy, and willing to do anything including brainwash Alice to get what he wants. There's a real darkness to him that contrasts well with Tony, the nice guy Alice really wants to be with. There are a bevy of hairdressers who all dated Cupid at some point, a widowed minister who lives with a widowed gay man (lives with, not LIVES WITH), and the sweet old granny who looks after them all.
My favorite part was the unspoken tribute to the romance genre. Alice has heard the old stereotype than anyone can write a romance novel so many times, she decides she can take it on with no problem...but she finds it's much harder than it looks. The plot even includes a very time-honored romance novel device: the "romantic misunderstanding that can be cleared up with a single conversation." I'm serious; this is a big beef with romance novelists and readers today, and I laughed to see it slipped into this story.
Nay!: Okay, sometimes the plot/supernatural elements get a little wacky, and the wrap-up is extremely sweet. But it's all in good fun, and I loved every page.
Cosmetic: This was a Valentine's Day release, so the heart was appropriate, and the sentence "I do not believe in Cupid" is written repeatedly on the beige strip inside the red, which at least gives SOME clue what the book is about. I have to say, I don't think the title is quite right though, and it's been used already on at least two unrelated movies I know of.
Bonus: The story wraps up with an excerpt from Realm's magnum opus, "Death Cat."