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Can a marketing strategy help a 37-year-old Londoner find love the second time around?

Ally James works in marmalade. Perhaps not as exciting as her previous job at Chanel, but given the shorter hours and higher pay, she’s willing to exchange a bit of glamour for more time with her two young children, Millie and Jack. Since divorcing David, a dashing photographer who loves women a bit too much, Ally has led a slightly hum-drum existence—her idea of a special night is nachos with tuna fish accompanied by another viewing of Sleepless in Seattle. All this changes when, as a favor for best friend Mel, Ally attends a series of relationship seminars held by Marian Boyd, who promises that applying marketing schemes to dating will lead to wedded bliss. Mel works for a women’s magazine and needs Ally as an undercover participant, but really, Mel thinks it’s not a bad way to get Ally out of her rut. After following the dictums of the seminar (and getting a make-over), Ally lassos in three “Duck Decoys.” These Ducks are to be men Ally has no real interest in (or are unsuitable in some way) but can be both good practice material and morale boosters. There’s Alan, a fireplace salesman who is kind but frumpy, electrician Gary and Tom, who doesn’t seem like a Decoy at all. Tom is charming, sweet and dotes on his three-year-old, Grace, but may be too recently widowed to consider a relationship. Ally lures him in anyway, and sparks fly, but someone else has entered the picture: David, repentant and ready to come back to his family. Should Ally take back the father of her children? What about Tom? Can telemarketing and direct-mail campaigns work for love? Maybe, but Buxton’s tale is too familiar to distinguish it from the genre it’s part of.

Amiable—with some useful advice for meeting men—but predictable.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-48646-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2005