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The Trouble With Mary [Hardcover]

Millie Criswell

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Book Description

May 2001
Award-winning author Millie Criswell has charmed readers with her joy-filled historical romances. Now, in The Trouble With Mary,  she serves up her first contemporary romantic comedy--a palate-pleasing love story of two people with nothing in common . . . except their undeniable attraction.


She's unemployed. Her huge Italian family is driving her crazy. Her love life is nonexistent. In fact, she needs a life! So Mary decides to open a restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy. And despite her mother's assurances that she will fail, the place is a big success--until the local paper delivers a scathing review of her pizza, pasta, and chocolate cannolis.

Food critic Dan Gallagher hates Italian food--and his column shows it. Now Mary would like nothing more than to serve Dan on a steaming platter. Problem is, Mary is the most delectable woman Dan has ever met. And Dan is the most exasperating man Mary has ever encountered. And the trouble with chemistry is, neither one can resist it. . . .
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas T Beeler; Lrg edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157490342X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574903423
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.9 x 1.9 cm

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MARY is outrageously fun! 6 Jan 2001
By Laurie Gold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although I'm not much of a cook, I do know a winning recipe when I read one, and THE TROUBLE WITH MARY is simply delightful. When Mary gets a bad review for her new Italian restaurant, she pays a little visit to sportswriter Dan, who is filling in as food critic. He's no Oscar, though, and is immediately attracted to Mary, even when he believes her food has poisoned his son. Though accusations fly initially, Mary and Dan begin to date, and Mary's hopes for finally getting zinged look promising. If only her nosey and noisy family didn't interfere in her life so much. If only Dan weren't so opposed to women working - it's what broke up his marriage. If only Mary weren't so opposed to settling down, which is what Dan determines he wants.
Millie Criswell's first single title contemporary romance is lots of fun - Mary's thoughts are often out-and-out hysterical, and the personalities of her mother and klepto grandmother are rendered wonderfully. Dan's son is not the traditional cardboard-cutout-kid so often filling the pages of romance novels. And, the love scenes will tingle down to your toes.
While THE TROUBLE WITH MARY is a good read, it's not a great one. Dan's old-fashioned attitude toward women working seems somewhat archaic, and even though he gets past it, it was definitely there. It's hard to pin-point other problems with the book, so I guess it just comes down to this: some books are fun to read, and that's all. For me, fun to read is good enough. If it's good enough for you too, give this one a try. If you do, I think you'll enjoy it, and will look forward to the sequel, featuring Mary's brother, who's a Catholic Father and her best friend, ... Annie.
TTFN, Laurie Likes Books Publisher, All About Romance
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the Thing for the Winter doldrums 9 Jan 2001
By Barbara O'Neill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Have post-holiday letdown? Grab yourself a copy of Millie Criswell's THE TROUBLE WITH MARY, and you won't be down for long.
I'd only read a chapter or two before I realized *this* was *my* kind of book. It reads fast, has lots of dialogue, humor, and lovable, quirky and sympathetic characters. I'm sure many of us know people like Mary Russo: approaching the 40 mark, not married, a virgin, and still living with their family [in this case, a large extended Italian family]. Armed with courage and a fledgling spirit of independence, Mary decides to move out of the family home and open her own restaurant. This does not amuse her mother, a staunch matriarch who loves nothing better than to cook and plot out her children's lives.
Enter Dan Gallagher: Irish, single dad, sports writer and fill-in food/restaurant critic with a vocal aversion to Italian food. His 'review' of Mary's restaurant, "Mama Sophia's," throws the two together for the first time as Mary decides to pay the tastebud-less critic a visit to set him straight. What it does is set off a chain of events the formidable Sophia and the whole Russo family are powerless to stop. I'm from a very small family and just the thought of getting involved with a family as large, vocal and nosy as Mary's gives me hives. Dan not only perseveres, but he and his son, Matt, thrive in an atmosphere painted with compassion and [by the author's admission] accuracy.
It's so darn gratifying to read a contemporary novel with slightly older hero and heroine in which the couple can have spirited banter without the woman coming off as an airhead and the guy as one step above a fruit fly in IQ. I simply refuse to read about Neanderthal heroes with testosterone overload, who think it's jolly good fun to rattle off obscenities, treat the heroine like dirt, and indulge in endless tasteless humor. Those of us who prefer a sophisticated brand of humor will appreciate THE TROUBLE WITH MARY, a blue-ribbon winner for Millie Criswell.
I'm already anticipating Annie's book in August 2001.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A read to bring smiles and laughter 8 Feb 2001
By Carol Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
THE TROUBLE WITH MARY Millie Criswell Ivy Books ISBN #0-804-11950-3 January 2001 Contemporary
Baltimore - Present
Mary Russo is a middle child born into a stereotype Italian family where the matriarch reminds me of Sophia of The Golden Girls TV show. Sophia Russo always has a one liner to divulge and it often begins with - The trouble with Mary is ..... to fit whatever the occasion happens to be at the moment. Thanks to many of these isms, Mary believes herself a fat failure. She dropped out of school to work in a Pizza Parlor and now her boss is dead and she doesn't have a clue where or what she wants to do. Loving to cook and deciding to venture out on her own, Mary finds a new apartment over the same building where she opens an Italian restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy section of town. She looks forward to a thriving business, but the newspaper's food editor blasts her restaurant with a terrible critique. Just wait till that Dan Gallagher, whoever he thinks he is, gets a piece of her mind!
Dan Gallagher was a successful sports editor for the newspaper, but nepotism enters the picture and he's asked to fill a vacancy as food editor for a spell. Dan isn't happy, but doesn't have much choice either. Dan hates Italian food and must review the new restaurant opening in Little Italy, and blasts it with a terrible critique. He has set an Italian family against him and little Mary Russo is going to burn his ears when she walks into his office a few days later. But when Dan looks at the petite woman it's more than his ears that burn.
Millie Criswell steps into the arena of contemporary writing with a blast, as THE TROUBLE WITH MARY is a riot of romantic comedy. She gives readers a story to laugh with and brings a family to life when a typical Italian daughter falls for of all things, an Irishman. Dan and Mary are such fun to read about as they become friends, then lovers. Her secondary characters seem like relatives after you read a few chapters. There is the colorful Grandma Flora who never lets Sophia forget she wasn't good enough for her son, Frank, but no woman could have met Flora's expectations. The aunts and uncles and their idiosyncrasies will keep a smile on your face with their antics. Then there is Dan's precious little boy, Matthew, who doesn't want to live with Dan and is angry because his mother deserted him, but Grandma Flora and Mary will soon bring him out of the doldrums. Then, there is Mary's brother, Joe, a priest and light of his mother's eyes; and Annie, the outrageous best friend, among other characters presented. Each of the cast is fully developed and given a unique personality.
Though most of the story is a comedy, there are some serious matters hidden between the lines, and the author does a great job in solving them. Mary harbors a real fear of failure in her relationship and hesitates to commit because of that fear. She's also been under her mother's thumb all of her life and enjoys her independence and doesn't want to give that up. Dan was been burned in his first marriage and isn't interested in anything more than a casual relationship - but Mary's family will have more than a little to say about that. THE TROUBLE WITH MARY is a read to pick up when you want to lift your spirits and put a smile on your face. Millie Criswell proves she can write a contemporary to equal her previous historicals as she uses imagination, wit and humor to bring a delightful story to her fans. There are steam-filled pages of sensuality as the thirty-something virgin learns about making out. This reader is hoping there is a sequel to bring this family to a conclusion since I have a strong need to know more about brother Joe. Millie Criswell left me with a grin and a satisfying conclusion to a tale I highly recommend.
Carol Carter/As written for Under The Covers
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great first entry in the Baltimore Little Italy series 10 Aug 2005
By Tracy Vest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anyone who has a mother with a penchant for nagging and providing unsolicited advice (whether mom is Italian, Irish, Catholic, or Jewish)... well, they'll be able to relate to Mary Russo. The trouble with Mary is that her mother has no problem telling her what her trouble is.

In an act of either defiance or maturity, she shucks her comfy existence, throws caution to the wind, moves out of her parents' home, and opens her own restaurant. Next on her agenda is to find a man that can make her "zing" (and relieve 32 years of pent up virginity).

Things run smooth until Dan Gallagher, a sports columnist and self-proclaimed Italian food hater (filling in as food editor) gives her a scathing review. When she confronts him, he is immediately attracted to the Italian spitfire. Of course, in order to gain her attention, he is going to have to eat a lot of Italian food. After a first kiss with plenty of zing, Dan may just be a contender.

Mary and his surly, foul-mouthed son Matt bond quickly, with the help of her quirky Italian obscenity-spewing kleptomaniac grandmother. Dan mistakenly blames the break down of his marriage on his wife for going back to work. Something that does not sit well with Mary, who has no intention of giving up her restaurant.

With a backdrop of the funniest and most dysfunctional, meddlesome, but loving family, Mary and Dan embark on a romance, neither one really knowing what the other wants for the future. Except for each other.

It is a charming intro to what inevitably will be an engaging series of books with Baltimore's Little Italy as a back-drop. I am looking forward to the further adventures of the Russo gang!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious treat! Very highly recommended 10 Mar 2001
By C. Penn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sophie Russo has an opinion about everything, especially her daughter, and never hesitates to point out problems, always beginning with the phrase, "The trouble with you, Mary, is..." A healthy Italian, daughter, Mary's learned to cope with her mother's advice quite well, usually with the help of chocolate. Like the day her boss, whom she loved as a favorite uncle, committed suicide, taking both their friendship and her job. While Sophie accuses of Mary of having no will power, she simply drowns her troubles in her latest creation -- chocolate cannoli. At thirty-five, Mary decides its time to take a real chance, and opens her own restaurant. And she's a smashing success.
Then Dan Gallagher writes a review of Mama Sophie's. Granted, it has been a bad week. He wanted the promotion to Sports Editor, but the boss' nephew got the plumb. Dan has been appointed the Food Editor, while the current editor is out on maternity leave. Worse, Dan hates Italian. So he takes his frustration out on the newest Italian restaurant in town. Dan's scathing review inspires Mary's personal rebuttal. And when she storms out of Dan's office, having given her a colorful piece of her mind, he can only admire her fiery temperament. The trouble is...now he's gotta find a way into her heart and learn to like Italian.
If you are craving a fun, witty, off the wall romance, THE TROUBLE WITH MARY by Millie Criswell will fill the bill perfectly. The lively characterizations, especially the kleptomaniac grandma, earn this tasty treat top billing! With perfectly sinful recipes, Italian stereotypes, and her own ingenious style, Criswell's contemporary romance will have readers laughing right to the very end! Very highly recommended!
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