Divorced journalist romances again—maybe.
Annie Hollerman didn’t think she’d ever love again after leaving her rich but dull husband (her mother’s nickname for him: the Cardboard Box). But her pal Laurie just won’t shut up about Jack DePaul, 50-ish features editor for a Baltimore daily—and, once introduced, the two circle each other warily, not wanting to be hurt again. Jack is still getting over his affair with the married Kathleen, a self-absorbed beauty who was happy to meet him now and then for hot but meaningless sex but wouldn’t leave her husband. Sadder but wiser, Jack ponders a big question: Could Annie, with her flowing, red-gold tresses, and fabulous cheekbones, be his soulmate? He woos her with carefully composed e-mails drawn on actual events in her life, in effect rewriting all her little sorrows and false starts into happy endings. Annie, however, doesn’t dare admit the Awful Thing she did years ago that got her fired from a North Carolina paper. She hopes Jack will never discover what it was because he’s sure to hate her when he does. They have so much in common, including a fondness for lattes and literature, casually quoting Tennyson and dismissing Raymond Carver in almost the same breath. It seems a match made in heaven, until a reporter actually does reveal the Awful Thing: Annie once plagiarized an article about inner-city housing and is still haunted by shame. Weepily, she reveals that her troubled family’s penchant for white lies drove her to it. But Jack loves her nonetheless. Planning a romantic tryst in New York brings him to a swanky hotel where he falls into the clutches of wicked Kathleen, who looks at his laptop while he’s otherwise occupied. Later, when Annie calls, Kathleen informs her that Jack used to write things like that for her, too, so ha! Annie is heartbroken. Will the star-crossed lovers ever find the happiness they deserve?
Contrived debut: pretentious, often silly.