Review

Chick Lit 101: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

HISSY FIT Mary Kay Andrews

After catching her fiancé with her maid of honor at their rehearsal dinner, Keeley struggles to rebuild her reputation and track down the mother who abandoned her.

Source of Angst Her ex-fiancé's family is sabotaging her interior-design business, and her biggest remaining client— a cute businessman—has her restoring his mansion on an impossible deadline.

Fashion Disaster ''I was... standing there when Mookie went spinning out of control across the dance floor, and...got sprayed with a good six ounces of strawberry margarita. And across the front of my blue raw silk Tahari dress too.''

Lowdown The missing-mom stuff gets a little dark for this Southern-fried romp, but the furnishing descriptions are scrumptious and the love story's sweet (if predictable). B-

PLAYING WITH BOYS Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Set in industry-obsessed L.A., the story follows Alexis, a charming Texas-born manager; Marcella, a rude, spoiled actress; and Olivia, a quiet screenwriter haunted by past demons.

Source of Angst How to be a successful Latina woman in a town infested with misogynistic types, unfaithful men, and body-image issues.

Fashion Disaster ''She wore sunglasses and had her chin-length dark hair pulled back in something like a ponytail, with bangs. Nobody did bangs anymore, did they? Except maybe Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen, who were entirely indistinguishable these days.''

Lowdown Though it's peppered with the very stereotypes the characters want to counteract, Marcella's no-BS rantings (and unexpected habit of quoting philosophy) keep it entertaining. B

BEING COMMITTED Anna Maxted

Commitmentphobe (and ironically named) Hannah Lovekin turns down her longtime boyfriend's proposal...only to try to win him back when he gets engaged to someone else four weeks later.

Source of Angst Hopelessly cooking- and style-impaired, Hannah enlists her sister-in-law to help her become marriage material. Unfortunate Brazilian bikini waxes and spray-on tanning ensue.

Fashion Disaster ''In a five-second frenzy of rage he'd given me a [hair] cut that transformed me into a cross between Myra Hindley and his mother. I now had what I feared were sideburns.''

Low-down In a sea of engagement-obsessed chick-lit heroines, it's refreshing to find a protagonist who questions whether marriage really means happily ever after. B+

Originally posted Sep 03, 2004 Published in issue #781 Sep 03, 2004 Order article reprints