Love and life in modern-day Manhattan: just when you thought you'd had enough, Markus (Uncle, etc.) manages to give it new appeal, with a wry, updated fairy-tale twist, in her engaging fourth novel. Elaine Netherlands, a divorced, thirtysomething professor and writer, is on her way to visit friends in Connecticut when she takes a wrong turn. Lost in the woods, she follows a path and stumbles upon today's equivalent of an enchanted castle: a new condo complex. Before she quite knows how it's happened, Elaine meets the kindly real-estate broker (read ""fairy godmother"") and finds herself writing out a check to take an option on one of the units. Finally, she's guided out of the woods by handsome prince construction-foreman Mario. Once back home, in Manhattan, real life hits. Elaine has trouble with her editor, who seems to be waffling on her commitment to promote Elaine's novel. Then there's ex-stepdaughter Nola, who's hitting Elaine up for a loan so she can buy a van for her rock group. And, finally, Nola's father, Elaine's ex-husband Larry, a well-known photographer, may be seriously ill. Cleareyed Elaine tries to balance the complexities of her New York life with the escape she finds on her weekend visits to Mario in Connecticut. Eventually, though, it becomes plain that, even in fairy tales, it's hard to find ""happily ever after."" When the dust settles, Elaine discovers, it's real life that prevails, and maybe the most anyone can hope for is a change of luck. Markus loads her parable with 80's issues: real estate, drugs, divorce, and even the greedy shortsightedness of the publishing industry. At times it all feels a little forced--there's a bite of vengeance in the treatment of the book editor that's not too sweet. Still, the humor holds and the strong writing shines. In all, Markus is right on the mark.