"This sparkling novel about two sisters is both witty and stylish. Even if you don't have a sister of your own, you won't be able to resist LaZebnik's charming take on modern relationships. Read it!"
- Holly Peterson, bestselling author of The Manny
When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend's son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once "engaged" to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava's prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.
Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fianc�. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters' lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is . . .
In the winning latest from Knitting Under the Influence author LaZebnik, sisters Ava and Lauren Nickerson look a lot alike, but hyperpractical attorney Ava, 29, wears dowdy clothes and holds men at arm's length, while flashy, debt-ridden boutique owner Lauren, a few years younger, goes for the quick romantic fix. Drawn together in L.A. by their mother's illness, they determine to straighten each other out. Soon Ava ropes Lauren onto a budget, while Lauren, having uncovered a playful contract in which their parents jokingly betrothed Ava at age eight to a neighbor's young son, decides to find out if the grown-up two--who are strangers--might indeed make a match. The fact that fianc�-designate Russell Markowitz proves to be twice-divorced presents no obstacle to Lauren, especially after she learns that he works in the clothing industry and might be of assistance in making over Ava. Despite the lightweight premise, moments of real depth combine with witty dialogue as LaZebnik deftly spins each turn convincingly to avoid easy answers. (Sept.) ""
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Pretty good chick lit
Posted February 05, 2009 by Elle , Los AngelesI'm usually not a fan of chick lit, but this book was more about the relationship between 2 sisters than guys or clothes, so I liked it. There was a lot of humor and just enough romance to keep it interesting.
September 09, 2008
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Excerpt from The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Your sister is on the phone," Jeremy said as Ava approached his desk and snagged a Hershey's Kiss out of his candy dish. Jeremy was a perfectly good assistant in other ways, but his endless supply of chocolates made him an indispensable one, in Ava's opinion.
Ava looked at her watch. "She wants to talk now?"
"Should I tell her you'll call back?" he asked. Jeremy had sweet big brown eyes and thick, tousled hair. There was something slightly babyish about his round chin and full lips that made Ava feel mildly maternal toward him, though he was only a few years younger than her.
"No, it's all right. I'll take it." Ava went into her office, shut the door, and punched the speaker button on her phone.
"Transferring," Jeremy's voice said, and then there was a beep and Lauren's voice came out of the speaker. "Ava? Are you there?"
"Yep. Just got here." She shrugged off her coat.
"Really? So late?" Lauren's voice had the breathy quality of a young girl, but she lingered on her s's in a way that was oddly sultry. The combination suited her: in person she managed to be simultaneously childlike and alluring, with wildly curly dark hair, big eyes, a pointed chin, and a small, curvy figure.
In theory, she and Ava resembled each other--they were both small and dark-haired and anyone could immediately identify them as siblings--but Ava, whose hair was straight and who knew herself to be neither childlike nor alluring, didn't see it at all.
"It's nine a.m.," Ava said. She hoisted her heavy briefcase onto her desk. "Three-hour time difference--remember?" She extracted her laptop and a few folders, which she arranged in a neat pile on her desk, squaring the corners.
"Yeah, I know. I just figured you got up with the sun and made it to the office by six. Hey, A?"
"How seriously do you have to take letters from a collection agency?"
Ava digested that for a moment and then the weight of it made her sink into her desk chair. "You want to start at the beginning?"
A pause. "Okay, then it depends a little on how many you've gotten and how much time has passed since the initial notice, but . . . I'd certainly take them pretty seriously. Who's sending you the letters?"
"Who isn't?" Lauren said with a little laugh. "I'm up to my ass in debt, Ava. No, deeper. Up to my ears."
"Why?" Ava said. "I mean, you rent your apartment, you have a job, you don't have kids--"
"My job is the problem," Lauren said. "I can't go out there and buy stuff for the boutique without seeing things I want for myself."
"Wanting something and having to own it are two different things."
"Not for me."
"Well, that explains why you're up to your earholes in debt," Ava said. "So do you need me to lend you some money?"
"No, no," Lauren said. "I don't want your money. Unless, you know . . . you feel like you want to--" She cut herself off. "No, really, I don't. But I thought maybe if you wrote some of these debt collectors--you know, on your letterhead--maybe used some legalese, sounded official--"
"And tell them what exactly?" Ava said. "That you're above the law and shouldn't have to pay money you owe?"
"Would that work?" said Lauren with a hopeful little laugh.
"You need to talk to a debt counselor, Lauren. Someone who'll contact your creditors, consolidate all your debts, and set up a payment schedule for you. Do you want me to get some names for you?"
"Would I still have to pay it all back?"
"What about declaring bankruptcy? Don't people do that all the time?"
"It's a morally corrupt way to avoid accountability," Ava said seriously.
Another little laugh. "But besides that--"
"It should only ever be a last resort," Ava said. She stood up, which made her notice a small stain at the bottom of her sweater that hadn't been visible in the mirror of her badly lit bedroom that morning. "I'll e-mail you about the debt counselors as soon as I get some references. In the meantime, cancel all your credit cards and stop buying stuff. Make yourself a strict budget and stick to it. And if you can't stand being around beautiful, expensive things, get a different job. Did I mention that you should stop buying stuff?"
"I get it," Lauren said. "How are you doing?"
"Fine," Ava said. "I got my TiVo fixed."
"Woo-hoo. It's an exciting life you lead."
There was a knock on the office door and Ava walked over and opened it. "It had been broken for a while," she said, raising her voice so Lauren could still hear her. "I was missing all my favorite shows." Jeremy was waiting outside the door, a steaming cup of coffee in his hand. She mouthed her thanks as she took the cup, then said out loud, "I need to get to work, Lauren."
"Yeah, okay," Lauren said. "Bye. Oh, wait--one last question. I almost forgot."
"Hypothetically . . . A landlord can't just suddenly evict you for not paying your rent, right?"