SLOW HANDS by Lynne Kaufman


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A sex club for women—staffed by monks.

Okay, they’re Zen monks, though not Asian, and they haven’t taken vows of chastity. Thus, they’re at one with the eternal whatever, and they’re never, ever rude or rushed, unlike most men. Their female clients—an unappealing bunch of whiners, bulimics, and workaholics, all in group therapy—crave sex and are willing to pay for it. So what’s wrong with that? According to Sara Halprin, the group’s therapist, absolutely nothing. She loves her husband, a kindly orthodontist, and her teenaged daughter, but something’s been missing in her comfortable life. Something really important: men aren’t looking at her anymore. So she and younger sister Coralee, an upscale caterer, pool an unexpected inheritance to buy a big old house in Berkeley and turn it into a bordello-cum-massage-parlor dubbed Slow Hands. After reviewing an unattractive parade of lovers-for-hire, the sisters eventually decide in favor of some displaced-by-a-dot-com Buddhist monks. These beautifully built (all that kendo) holy men justify sex for hire, without a trace of irony, as a form of spiritual practice, not prostitution. But, it’s whispered discreetly, some money will be required now and then for jasmine incense, tatami mats, Jamaican Mountain Blue coffee, and other fabulous Third World treats beloved of the renascent counterculture. For women only, Slow Hands caters to the unloved, unhappy, and merely horny as a lot of high-minded rationalization of this implausible enterprise is bandied about and politically correct motivation is duly provided (this is Berkeley). Just don’t call Sara a “madam.” Her staff turns tricks to help women, and certainly not—heaven forfend—to turn a profit. Then Coralee gets breast cancer, Sara’s husband finds out about Slow Hands, and a right-wing neighbor, furious over the fun everyone else is having, not to mention the loss of his parking space, calls the cops and all wind up in court.

Silly debut. And not sexy at all.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55166-718-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2003