A psychobabbly first novel from therapist Comfort, partly redeemed by a couple of mildly engaging subplots. Protagonist Sarah Rinsley certainly fits the stereotype of a single female psychotherapist: repressed, prim, driven, unlovable- -in short, more screwed up than most of her patients. (See David Mamet's House of Games for the prototype.) Sarah is not without her quirks, however; she adores her ill-behaved basset hound, Frank, and retreats to bed with a box of brown sugar and a spoon in times of duress. She has two new men in her life: Nick Arnholt, a handsome, arrogant patient suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, and Humberto Cortazar, a Nicaraguan restaurateur who becomes her hot-blooded Latin lover. Humberto is the only character in the book who transcends clichÇ, but not by much. Nick's life is a veritable cavalcade of twisted but trite episodes: A workaholic attorney, he bounds from woman to woman, all the while grappling with the submerged memory of a youthful sexual relationship with his stepmother. Unresponsive to Sarah's ministrations, he gradually transforms doctor-patient confidence into queasy romantic obsession, stalking Sarah and filching bric-a-brac from her office. Following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, Nick brings Sarah up on false charges of sexual misconduct, and what had been a meandering, yuppified case study with a bit of bedplay tossed in becomes an uninventive courtroom drama populated by a relentless media swarm and a lady lawyer straight out of the tabloids. Faced with the loss of her reputation, Sarah has to fight to preserve her career. In the process, everyone except Humberto gets to have their little catharsis. No amount of tasty sex or soul-searching can compensate for wooden characterization.