Another novel of romantic complications in Chicago from Johnson (Love Frustration, 2002, etc.), who shows a lifelong friendship put to the test when two buddies fall in love with the same woman.
After his troubled mother found taking care of him too much to bear, ten-year-old Pete was taken in and raised by Wayne’s affluent parents. The boys became closer than brothers; now they share a successful medical practice. Their teenage vow to never let a woman come between them was tested when they met Carla. Pete spotted her first, but handsome, confident Wayne swooped in, and the two got engaged. Shortly before their wedding, though, Wayne had a quick last fling with an old flame, and Pete told Carla. She ditched him and married Pete, but the two men, miraculously, remained friends. Two years later, Carla is secretly seeing Wayne, who wants her back. She decides to break off their nonsexual relationship to save her marriage, but not before Pete, feeling neglected, has an ill-advised one-night stand with a patient. His shattered wife tells him that she plans to have an affair of her own. Torn apart at the thought of losing Carla, Pete comes up with a bizarre proposal. Since she will only take him back after she gets revenge, Pete insists that he should pick her one-time lover—and guess who he chooses? Wayne is now engaged to beautiful Me’Shell, and Pete knows his “brother” would never betray him, so he figures he can control the situation; he even draws up a contract for the adulterous night of love, complete with specific do’s and don’ts. The plan backfires in every possible way as Pete becomes violently jealous when he discovers that Carla and Wayne still have feelings for each other. The three then indulge in a tedious game of back and forth, pitting friendship against love and acting like five-year-olds until the nonsensical climax.
Joyless, ludicrous soap opera.