cover image One Good Affair

One Good Affair

Tess Stimson, . . Bantam, $12 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-385-34127-1

Pediatrician Ella Stuart has it all—a loving husband, a great career and a devoted lover, William Ashfield. For his part, William has a troubled wife, Beth, and a rebellious teenage daughter, Cate. When Ella's husband dies unexpectedly, it sends everyone spiraling out of control, and forces Ella and William to decide what they really want—and how many lives they're willing to ruin to get it. Despite a small cast of characters, readers will want a diagram to chart their overcomplicated relationships. Novelist Stimson (The Adultery Club ) comes perilously close to soap opera territory, but maintains integrity with a canny roving perspective that takes into account each character's point of view, including a well-handled bipolar personality. Unfortunately, the device isn't enough to save a plot far too implausible and drawn out. Though Stimson manages to elevate her material above the chick lit fray, her contrived ending gives readers little reward for keeping up. (July)