Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Whole Package by Cynthia Ellingsen (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with CBLS Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Cynthia Ellingsen, author of The Whole Package!

Author Guest Post

Hi Jersey Girl Book Reviews! Thanks so much for hosting me. I'm delighted to talk with your readers about The Whole Package (Penguin-Berkley).

Because The Whole Package is about three best friends who open a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men, there are several hilarious scenes. Recently, someone asked me to identify my top three favorite scenes in the book. What a tough question! But, I thought about it and came up with a few.

So, here goes ...

1. The Opening Night of the Restaurant

Even though the idea of a restaurant staffed by scantily clad men might be Magic Mikeishly sexy, the opening night of the restaurant is anything but! In this scene, although some of the waiters are sculpted and gorgeous, others are dressed in banana hammocks and covered in hair. It slowly dawns on the women that ... wait a minute! Scantily clad service isn't always sexy.

2. Doris Gets Revenge

Since the three best friends in The Whole Package have been close since Junior High, I had a lot of fun playing up some high school-esque behavior from these grown women. One of my favorite scenes is when Doris decides to get revenge on her high school nemesis by egging her car - old school style. When the police show up at Doris' front door, though, it takes a little help from her friends to get out of a sticky situation. 

3. The Flirty Restaurant Scene

When over-confident Andy shows up at sassy Cheryl's front door, expecting her to drop everything and go on a date with him, Cheryl decides to give Andy a run for his money. She dons her most outrageous dress and takes him to the most exclusive restaurant in town - then does everything possible to make the date as embarrassing as possible. Of course, Andy isn't phased by her naughty behavior and Cheryl finds herself trying to seduce him after all at her front door.

When you read The Whole Package, let me know what you think. Would you pick these as your the top three scenes? Or do you have another favorite in mind?

About The Author:

Cythina Ellingsen is a fiction writer and screenwriter. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband.

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

* Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway *

Win (1) of (3) Paperback Signed Copies of The Whole Package

Follow The Whole Package Virtual Book Tour and enter the tour-wide contest at each participating stop for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) signed paperback copies of The Whole Package. More entries = more chances to win!

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The Whole Package Book Trailer

Book Review

The Whole Package by Cynthia Ellingsen
Published By: Berkley - Penguin Publishing
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Format: Paperback - 416 pages / Kindle - 514 KB / Nook - 417 KB
ISBN: 0425241343
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: The Whole Package

Disclaimer: I purchased the book and will give my honest review. I am participating in a virtual book tour event hosted by CBLS Promotions.

Book Description:

Life has thrown childhood friends Jackie, Cheryl, and Doris a few curveballs. Widowed and broke, Jackie returns home after an extravagant life in Paris, Doris is reliant on anti-depressants, and Cheryl’s plans for a corporate take-over are replaced with walking papers. But after a drunken night sampling the delights at strip club for women, the ladies stumble upon a genius idea and decide to open up The Whole Package—the world’s first restaurant staffed exclusively by very attractive men. Armed with Jackie’s connections, Doris’ ambition, and Cheryl’s business sense the ladies set out to make their mark in the world.

Book Excerpt:

French is a sexy language. Except, of course, if you are standing in line at a French café and the French you hear is a nasal, drawn out, “Fat American.“ Unnecessary, especially if you are simply trying to buy a chocolate croissant to dip into the first cappuccino of the day.

Jackie - and yes, it was Jackie and not Jacqueline even though she was closing in on forty instead of the throat of the snickering girl behind her – whirled around.

“Did you just call me fat?”

A French girl stared back at her. The girl had the audacity to cock her head. A yes.

Jackie was stunned. Okay, fine – and a little hurt. Such a judgment was the last thing she expected in this cheerful neighborhood cafe with its brightly painted walls, kitschy produce art and erratically placed wildflowers. Even the French sayings on the wall, written in such careful, scrolling script were meant to inspire good cheer, not snappy little insults.

“Well, I am not fat!” Jackie said. And this was not in French, because after two years in the country she spoke French perfectly and proving it was no longer important. “I am sexy.”

A mustached host had been writing out specials on a blackboard with squeaking chalk. At this, he paused and took a look. Jackie ran her palms over her curvy hips and considered giving a slight shimmy. The man gave a nod in agreement and went back to the specials.

The French girl sniffed. She was dressed all in black, a total cliché. She was holding a sniveling, trendy dog. Its shaky face was framed by a bejeweled collar and its droopy eyes stared, along with everyone else in the cinnamon scented café.

“Perhaps you should order something to eat,” Jackie said, pointedly eyeing the girl’s bony frame . “You’re probably just suffering from low blood sugar.” 


Jackie’s jaw dropped. Drawing herself up to her full height of 5’3” (5’6” with her three inch pumps), Jackie said, “If you want to live off of cigarettes and red wine and ignore the delicacies your country has to offer, you go right ahead. But I would rather get chased out of Le Bon Marche by a firing squad than strut around in a body that looks like it was stolen from an eight-year-old boy.”

The French girl gasped.

“I am going to embrace my sensuality,” Jackie said. “I am going to improve upon it. And,” she stood a bit taller, “it is gonna happen with a chocolate croissant.”

My Book Review:

Three longtime best friends ... three lives in shambles ... an opportunity to rebuild their lives together ...

Jackie, Cheryl and Doris have been longtime best friends through thick and thin. When each of their lives takes a downward turn, they come together at the age of forty to pick themselves up off the floor and rebuild their lives together.

Jackie had married into money, and when her husband Robert died, she took off for Paris to become an artist. After living the glamorous Parisian high society life for two years, the money from her husband's estate has run out and she is left penniless. What does she do ... why she goes back home to her BFFs in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Cheryl is a career oriented marketing executive who is on top of her game, until a racquetball incident and damaging information on her Blackberry gets her wrongfully terminated from the marketing firm. She also likes to sleep around until one of her dalliances leads to an unexpected pregnancy.

Doris and Doug were high school sweethearts who got married at 17 years of age when Doris became pregnant, only to suffer a miscarriage. Their marriage survived and Doris has been a stay-at-home mom for their only child, Mandy, a fifteen year old ungrateful spoiled brat. Two years ago Doris' mother passed away and she became a completely different person: gloomy, depressed, judgmental, prone to panic attacks and chocolate binges. When their twenty-third wedding anniversary arrives, Doug has a mid-life crisis and tells Doris that he needs to "find himself."

Now back together, the three BFFs go out on the town to a strip club and come up with a brilliant business idea: open a Hooteresque like restaurant called The Whole Package that caters to women staffed with half-naked male servers.

Can their business plan yield a success and help them rebuild their lives, or will it tear their lifelong friendships apart?

The Whole Package is a delightfully entertaining story about the importance and beauty of the power of friendship. Written in the third person narrative with alternating perspectives of Jackie, Cheryl and Doris, the author weaves a magical tale about the special bond that is formed in lifelong friendships. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, ups and downs, these three ladies share a special bond that has kept them together for over thirty years. The author does a wonderful job describing the women's individual life stories, their shared memories, and their lifelong friendship bond. Rich in detail, the women's plans to start-up their restaurant was intriguing and had a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. The journey that the three women take to rediscover themselves and rebuild their lives is a testament that even when the chips are down, someone will still be in your corner giving you support. Their story is heartwarming, tender and poignant, it will make you think about your own friendships, while providing a nice dose of humor to make you smile as you turn the pages.

The author has created a cast of characters who are realistic, complex, strong, loving women. I loved the dynamic of their friendship. The description of their different personalities and lifestyles along with the complexities of their friendship was intriguing, I loved seeing how their three lives meshed together over the span of three decades. The dialogue had a nice mixture of poignancy and humor, it made the story an enjoyable and compelling read. You can't help but become engrossed in the women's lives and cheer for them to succeed as they go on a journey to rebuild their lives.

The Whole Package is a wonderful story that captures the beauty and essence of the bond of friendship. This heartwarming and poignant story will resonate with you long after the last words have been read.


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