Frank Baldwin, Author . Little, Brown $24.95 (320p) ISBN 0-316-17077-1

Even the accounting world seems sexy in this raunchy tale of urban obsession. While Baldwin's debut (Balling the Jack) dealt with obsessive gambling, in this follow-up the compulsion is sex. Mimi Lessing is six weeks away from saying "I do" to her longtime boyfriend, Mark, when temptation strikes in the form of brawny and swaggering Jake Teller, a new hire at the New York accounting firm where Mimi and Mark both work. Though Mimi sees cruelty in Jake's eyes, she is captivated by the erotic magnetism and self-assured mystique that the sophisticated roué exudes in his cryptic conversations. Baldwin allocates plenty of space to Jake's machismo and sexual conquests, doling out pages and pages of graphic s&m, including bondage, torture, blindfolds, ice and hot wax—all to the squirming delight of his female prey, and all a testament to Jake's implausible fortitude. When Jake invites Mimi to watch as he dominates and pleasures his women (all of whom conveniently happen to have four-poster beds), she is wary at first, but once she begins her secret escapades as a voyeur, she can't stop. Meanwhile, throughout the tedium of repetitious scenes of seduction, the point of view shifts to that of a mysterious man who is stalking Mimi. Enraged by Mimi's new activities, the once-passive stalker vents his anger on Jake's recent lovers, until he can no longer hold back from Mimi herself. More cheap porn than literary erotic, the novel also fails to register credibly as a thriller. The redemptive ending is a belated attempt to add dimension to otherwise hollow characters. Rights sold in Germany and the U.K. (Jan. 4)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
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