Dating Without Novocaine by Lisa Cach
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

There's a place for frivolity, and this cute and clever little book by Lisa Cach is quite frivolous. Ever since the success of Bridget Jones' Diary, the proliferation of witty, fun books centering on the single girl seeking a mate has been astonishing. Mainstream fiction has mated, sometimes successfully, sometimes not-so-successfully, with the romance genre. The formula rarely shifts, as endings almost always still include connubial bliss.

Like Nina Lee Braden, I am always on the lookout for fiction that integrates the tarot within its plot, and Cach's Dating Without Novocaine offers a small-but-meaty tarot interlude or two. Hannah O'Dowd, the protagonist, is given a reading by her Goddess-loving, belly-dancing roommate Cassie early in the book. I bet you can guess the question on Hannah's mind...it does come up with regularity in readings, after all.

The reading lasts for several pages and offers insights couched in the style of, "The Magician. He brings messages from the realms of the gods, often in the form of synchronicity."

While there is only scant mention of the tarot thereafter, this light-hearted book kept my attention from start to finish. The fact that the book begins with a screamingly funny belly-dancing/goddess workshop scene was the impetus for my purchase--the tarot scene was a hoped-for, but mostly unanticipated, pleasure.

I recommend this book as the perfect beach read for women. It's the literary equivalent of a chick flick, so I hesitate to recommend it to men. I should also mention Dating Without Novocaine is racier than your average romance novel--for example, it includes another hilarious scene where Hannah goes to an "Adult Superstore" on a whim to buy a new vibrator and gets interviewed for the nightly news as she emerges from the shop. This kind of risqué material isn't typical of Harlequin, who has launched this new line of romances (Red Dress Ink) for the 18-34 year olds who turn up their noses at Grandmom's Janet Dailey novels.

Excerpt:

I continued to study the cards, unhappy that some of them seemed to fit my situation so well, while others did not. I wanted it all to be garbage, or all to be true. I don't enjoy ambiguity.

She let me stare at the cards a little longer, then scooped them up and put them back in the deck, wrapping the deck in a blue silk scarf. "You can make of it what you will," she said, "but at least look for synchronicities in your life. Whenever I get the Magician, strange things seem to happen, and I usually learn something from them."

"What type of strange things?"

"Oh, like maybe I've chosen five books at random from the fiction shelves at the library, and when I take them home and read them I discover that they all have a villain who looks and acts like Teddy Roosevelt."

"What on earth could you possibly learn from that?"

"It's like the cards. You can find the parallel in your own life, if you look for it. Maybe I'm dating a guy who reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt in some way, and the synchronicity is telling me he is bad for me, that he's a villain. I don't know. It depends."

"Cassie, sometimes you're a very weird chick, you know that?"

"Am I," she asked, sounding pleased.

Dating Without Novocaine by Lisa Cach
Publisher: Red Dress Ink
ISBN#: 0373250142

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

Review and page © 2002 Diane Wilkes