THE TROUBLE WITH CATHERINE

Andes Hruby, Author . Dutton $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-94640-3

The tough, independent owner of a New York City fish dealership is tripped up by romantic troubles in this feisty first novel. Catherine Lacey was a "dock brat": she can hold her liquor; she runs marathons; she wears "shoddy deck shoes." She's always been happy being one of the boys, but as her friends slip into matrimony, she decides the time has come to leave baseball caps behind and try on a diamond for size. The stone in question is a massive one, courtesy of her lawyer boyfriend, Steve. But as she prepares for the wedding, she comes to realize that Steve has some troubling personality traits. Does she really want to end up with a man who hates her hard-nosed work ethic and asks, "Can't you just back off after five o'clock and let me wear the penis"? Hruby paints a lively if sometimes exaggerated picture of her heroine, lavishing as much detail on her career as on her relationship woes. The ins and outs of the fish business are colorfully described, and Catherine's parents, as tough-minded as Catherine herself, are carefully and lovingly portrayed. The romantic plot line is marred by a series of implausible developments—Catherine runs into a long-lost child love not once but twice—and Hruby's prose hits a few rough spots, but readers will relish Catherine's rough and ready banter and her no-nonsense attitude, refreshing in the face of a slew of sappier romances. Agent, Simon Green. (Mar. 18)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-452-28346-6
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