Help A Bitch Out

HABO: Sounds Like a Movie

Linzenberg writes with the following HaBO (Stands for “Help a Bitch Out,” those who are like, HUH?) request. This, to me, sounds like a movie:

Back when I was, oh, I’d say 13 or so (so around the late-90s/early 2000s)
I managed to get my paws on My First Romance NovelTM. I knew it was a
Romance NovelTM, because it had S-E-X. How it ended up in my house, I have
no idea, because my mother took it out of the library and my mother is a
woman who says “Sugar” as a strong explicative. But somehow it made the
trip to our house and SOMEHOW it ended up in my room and SOMEHOW my eyes
bugged right out of my head at the delicious, sexy awesomeness of My First
Romance NovelTM. I’ve been searching for it for years now, for old time’s
sake, and cannot for the life of me remember what it was called or who it
was by. Luckily, I remember everything else:

The heroine is a successful English art agent in New York who’s positive
her reliable-if-dull boyfriend is going to propose to her. The book starts
with her getting all dolled up in a bright pink dress in her work bathroom
on the night of their umptieth anniversary, ready to meet reliable-if-dull.
Of course she is gobsmacked when reliable-if-dull breaks up with her (in the
nicest manner possible—this is important later) and asks her to move out.

She storms over to the hero’s townhouse (maybe in Chelsea? I seem to
remember the impression of there being trees on his street, so he wasn’t
in, like, the Financial District), breaking up a poker game. They’re
friends from back when they were young and broke (he’s now a writer, trying
to break out of the sophomore slump; she’s, as mentioned, English and an
art agent), and she somehow finagles staying in his guest bedroom until she
finds a place of her own. There’s a bet involved about meeting in a year
and it’s witnessed by the poker players about whom we immediately forget.
(Little Linzenberg: Describe the hero’s blond hair again!)

UST abounds as hero and heroine co-exist in the townhouse, both dating
younger people (she a very sincere actor boy [there’s a pretty hilarious
scene that skewers impenetrable off-Broadway theatre], he a hot-to-trot
young thing with a tongue ring from the creative writing class he teaches).
At one point all four go to Coney Island.

Meanwhile, reliable-if-dull ex-boyfriend has met heroine’s best friend
(Cat? Catalonia? Catatonic?) who is suitably Earth Mother-y and, after
giving him a tongue-lashing, tells him to take lichee fruit or something for
his allergies and falls in love with him. It’s actually kind of sweet.

The relationships with the young things falls apart as they usually do (if
only because the young things are not the hero and heroine, respectively)
and again, somehow, hero ends up going to England for heroine’s bratty
step-sister’s wedding. Of COURSE heroine cannot go stag, so they invent a
fictional relationship (Little Linzenberg: SQUEE!) and wing off to the
English countryside to climb through windows to get outside, play croquet,
and drink Pimms on the lawn. (Little Linzenberg: England is so classy!) As a
couple, hero and heroine have to share a room. (Little Lizenberg: Squee,
squee, SQUEE! Shhh! Mom might hear!)

Everybody buys the relationship, even hero and heroine, no more so than when
he ends up singing “Say a Little Prayer for You” in karaoke during the
rehearsal dinner festivities. They get drunk, stumble across the lawn
singing “You’re Sensational” from “High Society”, and he ends up
picking her up and carrying her up the stairs to their room where they make
out (Little Linzenberg: Oh. My. God.) only for her to freak and send him on
his way.

Horny and rejected, hero makes his way to the study where he remembers a bar
and gets a little more drunk. There, heroine’s step-sister finds him and
jumps his bones (Little Linzenberg: …) The next day, things get worse when
step-sister TELLS heroine about her little escapade.

This goes about as well as can be expected, and hero and heroine spend about
six months or so apart. Apparently, moping and being in love suit hero’s
muse, because he ends up writing his book in a cabin and having erotic
dreams about the heroine. (Little Linzenberg: She said “erotic”!) She
bumps into one of the poker players from waaaaaaay back in the second
chapter who then fulfills his duty by reminding her of the bet. She runs off
(in lace-up purple suede knee-high heeled boots [Big Linzenberg: Damn, that
woman had an excellent wardrobe]) and tracks down hero, they have their I’m
Sorrys and the book ends. It’s only until years later, writing a Help a
Bitch Out, that I realize there is absolutely no payoff and we never get to
see these two actually get together.

And that’s it. Clearly, I don’t actually need to read this book, since I
remember everything about My First Romance NovelTM. I’d ask my mother, but
she’d probably wash my mouth out with soap.

Wouldn’t you swear that was a movie, possibly with Ashley Judd or something?  Anyone remember this book? With that much detail, I bet someone will know it instantly.



Help a Bitch Out

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    LEW says:

    Sounds like a mash-up between “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “The Wedding Date”.

  2. 2
    Tina C. says:

    I wonder if this isn’t a mash-up of Asking For Trouble, by Elizabeth Young, and something else.  (If so, that might be why it sounds like a movie to you, Sarah, because Debra Messing did a movie loosely based off the book called The Wedding Date.)


    …set in modern England …[the plot] is predicated on a white lie that spirals out of control. Sophy, a charmingly sarcastic London recruiter on “the cutting edge of human-resource management,” is in no rush to get hitched and only mildly disheartened when her long-standing boyfriend dumps her. Her fretting Mum believes that “an unattached daughter who’s just hit thirty is a Serious Worry,” so to keep her happy, Sophy fabricates a handsome, attentive, successful suitor named Dominic. But when younger and prettier sister Belinda decides to marry, Sophy is forced to produce her new bloke. Ever resourceful, a desperate Sophy hires Josh from a London escort service to play the part of Dominic and accompany her to her sister’s wedding. Predictably, within hours of meeting her paid companion, lusty Sophy finds herself attracted to him. Lies are piled on top of lies as the duplicitous Sophy suffers the “strain of spending a whole evening and night with a man I fancied the pants off while pretending I didn’t (to him), while at the same time pretending I did (for the family).” Despite Sophy’s near inability to tell the truth, she’s charming and the author does a fine job of conveying her appeal.

  3. 3

    I think I’ve found it for you: Just Friends, by Robyn Sisman.

    The story sounds dead on.

  4. 4
    Suze says:

    It does sound like a movie.  It doesn’t sound like a romance.  A sexy novel, maybe, but not a romance.

  5. 5
    Abigail Alexander says:

    this definitely sounds like Robyn Sisman’s “Just Friends”.  I’ve never forgotten this one cause I was so mad at the hero for letting the evil little sister jump his bones…

  6. 6

    Little Linzenberg is adorable.

  7. 7
    Joanna S. says:

    @LEW: you are correct.  The singing is from “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” when Rupert Everett sings “Say a Little Prayer for You” to Julia Roberts at the rehearsal dinner (they are at a seafood place and wave lobster claw mittens in the air), and the England bit comes from the “Wedding Date” with Deborah Messing, where she hires a male hooker to pose as her date to her sister’s wedding.  I would also say that the Break-up/Poker Game/Moving in with Friend/Ex-Boyfriend Gets Someone Else Bits come from the Ashley Judd/Hugh Jackman film “Someone Like You. . .”.  Hmmmm, makes me wonder how many writers have read this book too – it seems to have produced at least three romantic comedies.

    And, I agree, Little Linzenberg is adorable, and I would watch her show on Nickelodeon.

  8. 8
    Linzenberg says:

    YES, Susanna and Abigail!  That’s totally it!  Thank you, thank you, thank you! ::scuttles off to order deliciousness on

  9. 9
    ogame says:

    Lies are piled on top of lies as the duplicitous Sophy suffers the “strain of spending a whole evening and night with a man I fancied the pants off while pretending I didn’t (to him), while at the same time pretending I did (for the family)

  10. 10
    Rachel says:

    Ooh!  And I knew this one!  Yep, “Just Friends” by Robyn Sisman.  If you liked that there were some other similar ones by Elizabeth Young (as mentioned) and Michelle Cunnah (32AA – fabulous and adorable).  I loved all those books.

    Ooh, need to go re-read that.

  11. 11
    Ana says:

    It kind of sounds like the film “Made of Honor”: they met in college (10 years ago) she’s works at the Met, he’s rich, father a womanizer, poker buddies, travel to the UK for a wedding and evil relative tries to jumps his bones…

    I guess that’s 4 films now

  12. 12
    Bri says:

    and isn’t there a little of The Break Up in there too?

  13. 13
    Vicki says:

    Fabulous. So much to add to my tbr and tbv lists. The Bitches never fail.

  14. 14
    Keemeers says:

    I was just reading “Just Friends” last night. When you mentioned the little pink dress I was gobsmacked.

  15. 15
    Kaycee Kacer says:

    @lew, OMG that’s exactly what I was going to say!! COnveniently both The Wedding Date and My Best Friends Wedding have the same actor in it. How funny is that?

  16. 16
    LEW says:

    @Kaycee – RomComs are all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  17. 17
    KarenH. says:

    I would love to see a review by RHG, with commentary by Little Linzenberg intermingled :)

  18. 18
    Rebekka says:

    OMG I just came accross this book a couple weeks ago at B&N.. Couldn’t put it down, and then promptly passed it on to my best friend, who also loved it! Something about it just doesn’t let you put it down :-) It just plain makes me happy )after it also made me laugh and cry by turns).. so good :-)

  19. 19
    Linzenberg says:

    @Rebekka: I think one of the reasons it’s so great is a) it’s really firmly set in NYC, the world feels real; and b) the main characters feel “lived in”, you know?  Even as a Little Linzenberg, I was impressed by how Freya and Jack (I KNOW THEIR NAMES NOW!) had histories and approached life in a way that felt appropriate for adults in their 30s.  Maybe they weren’t the most mature, but they also weren’t acting like they were in middle school.

    possible36: Is it possible that I found the name and author of My First RomanceTM before I turned 36?

  20. 20
    Freiya says:

    The heroine is called Freya?? I liked the sound of it initially but now I definitely want to read it!

  21. 21
    Devon says:

    I have read this book before and one of the previous poster’s is right it is Just Friends by Robyn Sisman.

  22. 22
    Freya says:

    Me too. I love stories that have a ‘Freya’ as main character!

  23. 23
    Caitlin says:

    How does one fill out a HaBO? I’ve got a book from way back when that I would love to reread, but I have no idea what the title/author info was.

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