The story of divorce lawyers in lust—a bestseller in the U.K.
The novel flouts the chick-lit mode—there’s less high-fashion product placement, more intelligent, Latin-laced repartee and a better class of lacy underwear. Ultimately, though, it cannot escape the strictures imposed by the genre. London-based divorce lawyer Nicholas has seen plenty of marital upheavals and their financial aftershocks, but a young, gorgeous new associate, Sara, has him in a titillated tizzy. His wife, cookbook author Malinche, still lovely but run ragged by the demands of three daughters and the couple’s 16th-century fixer-upper, disregards her gay male friend Kit’s insinuations about Nick’s late nights at the office. Kit’s paranoia had misled her before: At 22 she was almost engaged to star chef Trace, when Kit goaded her into accusing Trace—groundlessly—of infidelity. Now Trace is back in town and wants to hire Mal as his sous chef. She’s tempted by the culinary and erotic possibilities—Nick has seemed preoccupied lately. Nick strives to break off his affair, which began during a terrorist attack on London. But Sara has a firm grip on his fantasies, not to mention his more tangible parts. Mal blunders into Nick and Sara’s Valentine’s Day tryst and manages to appropriate earrings and La Perla lingerie intended for Sara. Sara’s clinginess soon extends beyond her clothes, and Mal finds herself in a compromising position during a business trip to Rome with Trace. Sara’s whining, overheard at a law-firm function, confirms Mal’s suspicions. Nick is forced to move in with Sara, whose slipshod housekeeping dampens what remains of his ardor. Mal, meanwhile, retreats back to Trace’s all-too-willing arms. Will the great sex so painstakingly chronicled—Mal gets her share too—trump family bonds cemented by children and domesticity? But what if Sara is preggers? Because Mal, Nick and Sara alternate narrating the same events, the story jumps around in time and is often repetitious. The characterizations are convincing—the happy ending isn’t.
Talent in dire need of less formulaic material.