cover image The Flirt

The Flirt

Kathleen Tessaro, . . Avon, $13.95 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-06-112576-8

When charming, penniless would-be actor Hughie Armstrong Venables-Smythe answers a mysterious London ad for “an attractive, well-mannered, mentally flexible young man,” he learns that he’s to become a professional flirt, hired not to make conquests but to bring a touch of romance into the lives of unappreciated women. The catch: being a hopeless romantic, Hughie takes his job a bit too seriously. Deftly combining a sweetly improbable premise with witty, sometimes luminous writing, Tessaro (Elegance ) tells the stories of Hughie’s numerous clients, whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. They include Leticia, an emotionally repressed but sexually adventurous lingerie designer; Rose, a clueless waitress who accidentally becomes the darling of the London art scene; and Olivia, an emotionally abused socialite overdue for a transformation. Along with humor and a high London hipness quotient, Tessaro scores with keen insights into romance’s perceptual and emotional hall of mirrors. (July)