Valerie Frankel, . . Avon, $13.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-06-053668-8

As hundreds of romantic comedies have driven home to us, familial matchmaking just doesn't work. And nobody knows it better than Frieda Schast. When the 30-something heroine of Frankel's latest girds up her proverbial loins to hit the dating scene again after the death of her beloved husband, Gregg, her sisters have strong ideas regarding suitable prospects. Ilene, the control-freak executive, is determined that Frieda will have the perfect mate (and father for her young son, Justin): handsome, devoted and above all, successful. Betty, an overweight, wisecracking bookstore clerk, thinks Frieda should put more effort into getting laid than in taking a trip down the aisle. Frieda has fallen for a (much) younger and somewhat feckless actor, Sam Hill, but Ilene sets her up with dashing corporate golden boy David—he's nice, he's responsible, who cares if there's no zing? Meanwhile, Ilene is scrambling to resolve her own marital discord, and Betty has been taken on as a DIY improvement project by a charming temporary co-worker. It looks like chaos all around—and despite the feisty Schast sisters' regular summit meetings, nothing is turning out quite as it should. All of this should be charming, but tissue-thin characters and hackneyed plot twists drag the story down. Loyal fans will flock, but new readers will have to look to Frankel's backlist (The Accidental Virgin ; Smart vs. Pretty ; etc.) for fun and sparkly spring reading. (Mar. 1)