cover image DOG HANDLING


Clare Naylor, . . Ballantine, $12.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-345-45338-9

Londoner Naylor, author of Love: A User's Guide, gets off to a comically wicked start as spunky heroine Liv Elliott, flustered over her upcoming nuptials, writes her fantasy obituary and dreams of having "mad sex" with every man she encounters. When her fiancé, Tim, calls off the wedding, a shocked Liv resolves to stop chasing her dreams and start living them. With her jet-setting best friend Alex at her side, Liv trades in dank London for sunny Sydney, Australia, and begins to cross goals off her list: sex with someone other than Tim, a panty-less lunch date, surf lessons and starting her own business (a lingerie line called Greta's Grundies). She makes some zany new friends, including Dave, a cross-dressing singer, and she also reacquaints herself with Ben Parker—the boy she shared one dreamy night with as a teenager and has been thinking about ever since. Although Ben is attached to Amelia, a wealthy beauty, he is instantly enthralled with Liv. But Liv, tired of nursing broken hearts, dreads any kind of serious relationship. Dave explains that the only way to deal with men is to "dog handle" them: be the "girl with ball who doesn't want to play." Liv laps up the advice, and all goes according to plan until she falls hard for Ben and her man-handling methods are exposed. This is all reminiscent of Bridget Jones's Diary, of course, but amusing nonetheless. (May)

Forecast:With its stock characters—funny women fond of booze and boys, flamboyant gay buddies and the perfect dreamboat—this is one more version of the same old fairy tale. Even reluctant readers will find themselves laughing, though, and the book's eye-catching cover will draw in the casual browser.