For fans of Sex and the City, Pimentel offers a fictionalized account of a real-life experiment in dating.
Lauren Cunningham, a 28-year-old American in London, has left a serious relationship behind in Portland, Maine, to seek liberation and sexual adventure across the Atlantic. The men she meets don’t always believe she’s interested in casual relationships, and after she scares away an enjoyable English cad with an innocent misstep—making him eggs the morning after—the single life turns out to be more complicated than she imagined. To make sense of it, Lauren decides to follow a different dating guide each month, hoping she’ll find the right formula to attract a steady supply of sex with no attachments. Her list of guides is entertaining and varied, ranging from the ubiquitous anti-feminist manual The Rules to more obscure selections, including The Technique of the Love Affair, a 1920s ode to flirting, and the Victorian-era Manners for Women. She even decides to use The Rules of the Game, a dating guide written for men, with great comic results. Her misadventures with test subjects, to whom she gives nicknames like “Popeye” and “Top Hat,” along with her summations of the guides and their effectiveness, are entertaining, though at times they make the novel feel more like a series of blog posts. The story doesn’t find its emotional pulse until the very end, when some essential information about the main character is finally revealed. Still, Lauren is likable in her unapologetic yearning for freedom, and the novel offers enough suspense and vicarious fun to pull the reader along.
This novel doesn’t have the heart or ironic sensibility of Bridget Jones’s Diary, but for readers looking for something fun and casual without an emotional attachment, it might be a one-night stand to consider.