Books by Martha Baer

AS FRANCESCA by Martha Baer
Released: Feb. 14, 1997

Baer's six-month serial for Wired's on-line magazine, Hotwired (where this first-time novelist is executive editor), loses some pizazz in its translation to print as heroine Elaine V. Botsch, corporate cog by day, on-line sex slave by night, travels compulsively back and forth between her mutually enriching worlds. For years, Elaine Botsch has remained a contented small player in the budgeting department of Poplar & Skeen, but the attractive young employee's recent involvement in an on-line sex conference has not only spiced up her evenings but spurred her on to ambitious new heights in her career as well. In ways that Elaine can only guess, her humiliating electronic trysts as ``Francesca'' with a dominatrix who calls herself ``Inez'' have led to such excellent performance at her workplace that she's even up for a promotion into the executive ranks. Weeks fly by brilliantly as Elaine kneels down before her mistress by night and spouts eye-catching suggestions for corporate improvement by day—that is, until the night she accidentally logs on with her real name rather than her anonymous on-line ``handle.'' It soon becomes clear from Inez's subsequent references to Francesca's promotion and workplace that she knows her lover in their daytime lives. Elaine's confidence begins to crumble as she seeks to discover who at the office knows what sort of woman she really is. Then Inez disappears among the phone lines, absconding with her mysterious magic. This darkly humorous tale of erotic isolation would certainly scan well on the glowing screen of an office PC. In the clear light of print, however, a mediocre style and increasingly flimsy plot distract from the clever premise, leaving a reader unfulfilled and underamused. ($40,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >