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by Tracy Quan

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2005
ISBN: 1-4000-5354-4
Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

In this uninspired sequel (Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, 2001), Quan’s proud prostitute heroine simply goes back for sloppy seconds.

The sometimes amusing “diarist” narrator has married her impossibly perfect (and impossibly unsuspecting) banker boyfriend Matt, but otherwise it’s business, Brazilian waxes and Botox as usual. Weekly sessions with her shrink give Nancy a chance to be honest about her double life as wife and call girl, but for the most part it’s just lip service from a shallow, self-unaware liar hoping to keep her profession a secret. The most shocking thing about Nancy’s story isn’t the sex or her loyalty to the life, but the tiresome logistics. Someone is always coming or going, waiting in a hotel room or on voicemail, and they all require an excuse or a fresh lie. Covering-up has become this unnecessarily desperate housewife’s driving force, and it seems like quite a lot of hassle for a thirtysomething with a successful, baby-mad husband to want to put up with. Subplots involving sex-worker activism and a family funeral in Trinidad do little more than introduce more indistinct, dead-end supporting characters for the protagonist to manipulate or lie to. Meanwhile, Nancy seems to neither love nor want to leave hooking behind, and it’s not quite clear how the reader should view this conundrum: Is she sad and warped by the things she has done, or empowered and enviable? One thing that is for certain, Nancy is no Carrie Bradshaw, even if lunch conversations with her working-girl girlfriends read like tepid Sex and the City deleted scenes. And with the entire story taking place in early 2001, all this pre-9/11 grunting and groaning feels dated. Anyone looking for confessional, know-how secrets from a sexual dynamo will be woefully disappointed by advice like, “When in doubt, wear black.”

If a Nancy Chan franchise actually looms on the horizon, this happy hooker will need to learn some new tricks.