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Fans of Sims's Lambda Award-winning Lillian Byrd series (Easy Street, etc.) will recognize the bright, sassy tone of this first entry in a new series. When flashy L.A. attorney Gary Kwan offers aspiring actress Rita Farmer $1,000 a day to teach Eileen Tenaway, an unsympathetic defendant accused of murdering her baby, to appear more likable on the stand, Rita can't refuse. Flat broke, Rita fears losing custody of her son to her foul-mouthed ex. As trial prep progresses, Eileen's presumed-dead husband and her missing sister resurface, the husband's business partner disappears, money and gems are stolen, Gary is murdered and Rita's son is kidnapped. Sims writes well (her wry commentary on life in Hollywood is dead-on), but the relentlessly perky tone is at odds with the increasingly dark events. In addition, Rita's inexplicable actions in the face of danger diminish reader sympathy. In the end, the kitchen-sink plot is more wearying than dramatic. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.