I didn't like this book when I first picked it up. I found that the writing style seemed forced somehow. It's as if the author was trying -too- hard to make us laugh. I should have put it down. It would have been just like me to put it down--but I didn't. I can't explain why, exactly, but something hooked me and reeled me in. I think, in part, it has to do with the fact that these characters are just very amusing. For what the story lacks in parts, these people make up for it in full. I particularly like Charlie's sisters Em and Anne. They're a couple of rowdy no nonsense types. THey are (like nearly everyone in that family with Charlie being the notable exception) big and imposing, but just as gentle and fiercely loyal. Jessica, the dreadful new mistress, was actually another of my favorite characters. For all of her flamboyance and saucy airs, she really was a good sport in enduring everyone's constant harrassment...especially Em's. Oddly, I did not care as much for Charlie and _especially_ not Mace. I felt annoyed with the two of them and I couldn't quite understand where their romance came from but that may have more to do with my personal taste than any problem in the writing. I simply didn't care for Mace an felt annoyed that Charlie would fall for him--smoldering good looks or not. The fact that he was dishy did not, in my opinion, make up for his behaving like a spoiled child much of the time. That and his overconfidence irritated me. On the other hand, he inspired SOMETHING in me so obviously he's not completely forgettable. That is why I say it is probably more of a question of taste than anything having to do with the actual composition of the novel. I _do_ think the book is very good. There is plenty there that will hold a reader's interest. The quirky characters and pacing really help to keep the reader's interest for just one more page....and another and another. Even if I didn't really WANT to know as much about Charlie an Mace...I did. I recommend this book.