cover image Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter

Emily Giffin, . . St. Martin's, $26.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-55416-3

Giffin's latest is disappointing on all counts. Nick Russo is a pediatric plastic surgeon; his wife, Tessa (sister of Dex, from Something Borrowed ), is a professor turned stay-at-home mom living a cushy life in Boston. Nick is called in to care for a six-year-old burn victim, and Nick's devotion to his work is soon tangled up in his attraction to the boy's mother, Valerie, a single attorney. Narrated in turn by personality-free Tessa and one-dimensional Valerie, it takes Giffin an inordinate number of pages to deal with the book's only plot line—will they or won't they, and, if they do, will Tessa forgive him? It's unclear what Nick finds so unsatisfying in his marriage that might tempt him to adultery, and neither Tessa nor Valerie is complex enough to sustain interest. Longtime fans will enjoy the cameos, but newcomers will be better off with one of Giffin's earlier, better works. (May)