As she showed so convincingly in her Boo series, Rene Gutteridge knows how to have fun with a novel. This enjoyment is obvious in MY LIFE AS A DOORMAT (IN THREE ACTS), a Chick Lit romance that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Romance addicts and Chick Lit aficionados will find all the necessary elements of a good read here. Playwright Leah Townsend has a long-term romance of sorts going with Dr. Edward Crowse, professor of physics at Boston University, a cautious, punctual obsessive intellectual who is intentionally a stereotype. Leah is becoming tired of their relationship but still feels affection for Edward. Worse yet, her sister Kate, who has always been the black sheep of the family, has found a man who seems to be the catch of a lifetime. Her parents have turned their loving attention to her, and Leah is dealing with a full-fledged case of the green-eyed monster.
Of course, there's more. Leah's career anxiety is in overdrive. She's had one big hit, "The Twilight T-Zone," about the cosmetics industry, which was followed by a loser of a play, and then another stinker. Her pushy agent is driving her toward penning another blockbuster production --- or else. Throughout the book, Jodie Bellarusa, the fictional lead character of the anti-romantic play Leah is writing, amusingly talks back to her in italics, telling her what she wants. ("I really need more zest... Stop reigning me in.")
Protagonists are always more endearing if they have some sort of flaw, and Leah's most visible problem is that she "splotches" --- or blushes in patches --- whenever she's nervous or embarrassed. Gutteridge sprinkles this problem frequently throughout the story, which can become a bit much, but it does help us empathize with the character. (Leah's wardrobe choices fittingly revolve around wearing high necklines.) There's also the obligatory Chick Lit friend, Elisabeth Bates, a liberated mother of three children under six who's contemplating an affair with her neighbor, an out-of-work mechanic. Disaster is inevitable --- and it doesn't take much thinking to know who's going to get stuck babysitting the kids.
Leah, always a pl