The plot is practically nonexistent (the title says it all, almost literally), but Marchetta’s first solo effort—the story of Frankie Ferraro and the three most significant women in his life—is strangely gripping and unexpectedly satisfying for pulpy romance, perhaps thanks to the author’s tight, fast-moving style. Francis Ferraro is born in 1939 on Long Island to traditional Italian parents—Dolly and Sal--who have “made it big” with their contract sewing factory, which Sal hopes to pass on someday to his only son. But Frankie has other plans for himself—his friendship with Dan Colvington, a wealthy, mannered preppie, has given him a glimpse of a way of life he perceives as far superior to his immigrant parents’ plastic-covered-furniture notions of taste. And it’s through Dan that Frankie meets the kind of people he’s been dreaming about—’society people——and even falls in love with a distant relative of Dan’s, a pot-smoking, spoiled, trust-funded blond named Miranda. Frankie doesn’t know about Miranda’s troubled family life, and although she agrees to elope with him and they spend many luminous months in a Greenwich Village hovel (which Miranda finds charmingly rustic), disaster strikes when Frankie learns the truth of Miranda’s past. Years pass, and Frankie marries Annabel, an aristocratic, alluring woman who mothers his first child, Maud. When Annabel flips and kidnaps Maud, Frankie wages war to find the daughter he’s been neglecting for years; although Maud is regained, Annabel is out of the picture for good. After striking out twice, Frankie has given up hope, but his faithful, long-suffering assistant Martha shows him that true love more often than not finds you, rather than the other way around. Marchetta, co-writer of Ivana Trump’s two novels (Free to Love, 1993, etc.), is far better on her own: Frankie and his strong-willed women defy stereotyping in ways that are unusual for the genre, and the overall message seems genuinely heartfelt.