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Monkey Love    by Brenda Scott Royce order for
Monkey Love
by Brenda Scott Royce
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

In this uproariously funny debut, Royce delights with a lively, witty story that follows amateur stand-up comic Holly Heckerling through a variety of lively encounters with primates (both furred and furless) in New York City.

Like most single women in New York, Holly struggles with a number of familiar issues. Her aunt believes that every choice Holly makes is the wrong one, and has no qualms about telling her so again and again. Her friends constantly need Holly to get them out of one bind or another, and her love life leaves a lot to be desired. The only relationship Holly's ever had that's lasted longer than three months (three months and one day, to be exact) ends abruptly when her boyfriend walks into her apartment expecting dinner and instead finds Holly taking a chainsaw to a woman's leg. In Holly's defense, though, Monica Broccoli asked for it - and Holly was only trying to remove the woman's cast so she could have a shot at an acting audition. Yet for anyone unfamiliar with Holly's frantically bizarre life, this incident would seem like something out of a slapstick comedy.

Her day-to-day adventures provide Holly's burgeoning stand-up comedy career with plenty of material, but it still doesn't pay the rent. Holly is an innovative entrepreneur, though. She gives haircuts right from her apartment, types up a variety of documents for a number of clients, uses her power-tools when needed, makes deliveries to her elderly neighbors and on occasion, even becomes a surrogate owner to needy pets. Which is how the monkey enters the picture. I could tell you more, but I don't want to give anything else away. This is one novel that deserves to be read cover to cover. Holly's adventures range from the hilariously funny to the absolutely unbelievable, but they're never mundane. With clever writing and an incredible sense of pace, Royce sets her novel apart from the multitude of chick lit books available on the shelves.

The secondary characters add a lively and realistic quality to a number of events that might otherwise be too far-fetched to be believed. From Holly's best friend Carter to her cousin Gerry, they all come across as real people. Sure, they're a little quirkier than most people's families, but that only makes Holly's life that much more interesting. Witty, engaging and thoroughly entertaining, Royce's novel satisfies from the first page to the last. Holly is a wonderful protagonist and I'm eagerly awaiting future novels by this promising new author.

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