Cynthia “Mimi” Jamison meets with tragedy in the very first chapter of this novel. The troubled actress, whose career was marred by poor choices and pornography, falls asleep at the wheel of her car and dies in an accident in 1979. More than 30 years later, attorney Karl Cerelli is divorced, depressed and obsessed with Mimi’s short career. He visits a psychic who puts him under hypnosis, and he’s flung back in time to 1978 Los Angeles, where he plans to fall in love with Mimi—and change fate. They meet at a party at a thinly veiled stand-in for the Playboy mansion. Mimi, after posing nude for Bachelor magazine, has collected a menagerie of abusive, uncaring boyfriends, but after she and Karl spend one lusty night together, their lives are forever entwined. Karl whisks her away for a luxurious, sex-filled week in Lake Tahoe, but as the week winds down, Karl finds Mimi’s stash of heroin, and their love quickly sours. Mimi returns to her dealer and ex-boyfriend, and Karl tries to distract himself with other sexual romps and an exciting job offer in Atlanta. He returns to LA to find Mimi on his doorstep, and they give it another go, despite Karl’s appalled family and friends. When a drug binge costs Mimi an important audition, however, the relationship is back on the rocks. After some yelling, some sex and a big engagement ring, Karl thinks all is well, only to come home one day to find Mimi gone. He leaves for Atlanta, but Mimi returns to him one final time. Later, post-hypnosis, present-day Karl tries to process the love affair as the novel draws to a confusing, violent end. Mimi and Karl’s rollercoaster relationship is an entertaining fantasy, and the sexual revolution suffuses the novel’s late-1970s California setting. However, it can be exhausting to watch Karl try to save Mimi from herself over and over again, and heartbreaking to see Mimi’s success repeatedly decided by men, and not herself. The bedroom scenes are rather explicit and only a few steps up from romance-novel formula. However, the novel’s engaging secondary characters, particularly wild Southern belle Deborah and Karl’s friend Bill, add realism to an otherwise two-dimensional story.
Fans of Larry Flynt–era fiction will likely be entertained by this melodramatic tale of sex, decadence and codependency.