Rating: 3 stars
Three life-long friends: Cheryl, Jackie and Doris, are approaching 40 and each is experiencing a different time in her life.
For Cheryl, divorce came after her affair was exposed. Doris, is the mother of teenager Mandy who seems to loath her. Doris has been married since she was 17 and somewhere along the line she has lost herself, putting on 35 pounds and becoming a bit too conservative in looks and attitude.
After Jackie’s husband died, she became the sole heir to his extensive fortune—much to the shock and anger of her step-children—and immediately moved to Paris. Planning to mourn and kick-start her art career, she instead became swept up in the opulent high society. Now two years later, the money is gone and Jackie must return to Schaumberg, Illinois.
The three women are brought back together when Cheryl suffers a slight concussion—the result of a racquetball incident—and their support flows into Doris’ impending divorce and Cheryl’s unceremonious firing from the company she helped build.
To work off some stress, the ladies decide a strip club is just what the doctor ordered, leading them to the idea of opening a Hooters-type restaurant for women, which they name “The Whole Package” and staff with gorgeous men.
Opening night of the restaurant is a complete train wreck, from an elderly woman stripping off her clothes to a fire in the kitchen. Now, not only are the women’s financial futures in jeopardy, but their friendship as well.
Cynthia Ellingsen’s debut doesn’t showcase anything new, but she does manage to make the usual fare feel fresh and fun, with witty dialogue and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, guided by three very different and dynamic women who mesh perfectly together.
Overall, Cynthia Ellingsen has a winner on her hands, and those who are disappointed in themselves for being unable to pace themselves through this book, will anxiously await the next one.
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Original edition (August 2, 2011)