Elisabeth Page is a pastry chef. Not the run-of-the-mill éclair and cheesecake chef, but the overachiever type who works at the hottest restaurant in LA. The Page family have their standards – her mother runs the Foster Family Foundation, her father is a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist and her brother Rascal is literature’s next big thing. Why her goal to own a patisserie is taking years longer than planned, Elisabeth’s father Ben has no idea, but he still has hope for his daughter. At least he approves of her childhood sweetheart Will, who has an ambitious journalist career of his own taking him all over the world. No one in Elisabeth’s family seems to care that he’s never around, including Elisabeth, who is a slave to her Blackberry’s rigid schedule, until she meets Daniel. Rugged, gorgeous Daniel, who is the new assistant basketball coach at UCLA. A Midwesterner raised in a modest, small town, he’s everything her family is not, and Elisabeth likes that. But can her snobby family ever accept him, and can she make room for him as an exciting new career knocks on her door?
My contemporary romance/chick lit reading choices have been fortuitous of late, and Seeing Me Naked is no exception. Liza Palmer’s sophomore novel transcends its lightweight appearance, surprising with layered characters and overall emotional depth. Elisabeth is well drawn as a driven woman with a routine that beyond being stuck in, works, despite the added length to her career path. She thinks Will’s hot but brief semiannual visits are healthy for both her heart and her schedule. But then Daniel wins the bid on her cooking class, and Elisabeth is charmed by his utter cluelessness in a kitchen. More importantly, he likes her for her, not her famous family or her profession. But there’s much more to this novel than Will-Elisabeth-Daniel, which is thankfully a far cry from the traditional love triangle. As most chick lit is, with whom Elisabeth ends up isn’t meant to be unpredictable, but it’s how she gets there that is. The Page family has quite the messy dynamic. Elisabeth’s father Ben has for lack of a better word, issues that have affected the entire family since Elisabeth and Rascal were young. Daniel, who is unschooled in the etiquette of the charity dinner so common to the high society Pages, has a lot of new territory to traverse. Even when I expected them there are no simple, easy solutions, and I liked the complicated realism the t gray areas lent the novel. Naturally some things are just fun, like Elisabeth’s career opportunity, and a scene involving a blanket, the beach, conversation, and kisses. Happily, Daniel and Elisabeth’s relationship develops at a steady pace, gradually enough to enjoy the getting-to-know-you phase. I would be remiss not to mention the writing, which stood out but is hard to define. Effortless and subtle, I loved the wit and hints of figuration. I sighed happily as I turned the last page and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Seeing Me Naked to casual and seasoned readers who like complex, multivalent chick lit.