Richard Rayner's first novel recounts the adventures of Richard Rayner pursuing love in L.A.: a sometimes funny but mostly off-the-mark romantic comedy/zany caper/ fish-out-of-water story. Cinematically-minded London journalist Rayner meets Barbara, Playboy Bunny and California gift, while vacationing in Crete: smitten, he abandons job and girlfriend to pursue her in L.A. Working at the Hollywood Wax Museum and cleaning pools for a born-again entrepreneur, he goes about winning Barbara away from longtime boyfriend, gambler and aspiring screenwriter Patterson. Successful, Rayner and Barbara casually marry in Vegas; married, sex falls off, problems arise, and Barbara leaves him for Patterson. Then, for no discernible reason, Barbara changes her mind on the last page. This most standard of plots allows author Rayner to make familiar observations of life in L.A., retelling bizarre, probably tree L.A. anecdotes, describing bizarre, probably real L.A. parties, and offering up humor from the easy and obvious (""I'm bummed. I'm totally bummed.' He said it, he totally did"") to fine, sharp takes on ""the industry"" (everyone's got a connection, a screenplay, a scam). Finally, though, novelistic problems far outweigh the occasional perfect note: Barbara's never real, never justifies Rayner's behavior; and the central metaphor, life as movie, is tired and (here) sophomoric. Ya hadda be there.