In every sisterhood there's a smart one and a pretty one - the Greenfield girls are no exception. Smart Frank (Francesca) and pretty younger sister Amanda run the family coffee shop together, the only family they have since their parents died. Profits have been in serious decline since Moonburst, a coffee chain, opened next door - even though they sell over-roasted beans that lack the subtle complexity of Barney Greenfield's researched blends. When Clarissa O'Macfarlane enters their world, offering to make over the cafe as part of her marketing/PR course, the sisters agree, and thus is born Romancing the Bean. To get customers in they hit on the idea of a Mr Coffee of the Week - a hot guy to pull in the ladies. But when the first Mr Coffee's murdered, things get complicated.
I quite liked the characterisation and layered nature of the first novel I read by this author, and had fairly high hopes of Smart vs Pretty, in part because (as a sister) I'm part of the titular dynamic myself.
Unfortunately I just couldn't get into it at all. Neither Frank nor Amanda were particularly interesting or dynamic, the enigmatic Clarissa O'Macfarlane (seriously? Because 'Mc/Mac' means 'son of' and 'O' means 'grandson of' but they're not used together) is too much of a cypher, and I just didn't get into the plot at all.
As this is my second unfinished book in a week, maybe I'm just going through a particularly critical period, but I suspect it's more likely that I made a couple of dud selections at the library. My disappointment with Smart vs Pretty doesn't wholly counter-balance the positive impression I was left with after reading Frankel's The Not-So-Perfect Man so I'll give her another go, but only one. - Alex