Dog Handling

( 18 )

Overview

A hilarious and hip novel for every girl who?s been desperate to find a way into her dream-man?s heart?and discovered that love is more finicky than a Chihuahua in a Prada handbag.

Yesterday, Liv Elliot had it all: a great flat in London?s Notting Hill, an actual career (okay, as an accountant), and a fianc? with whom she was only weeks away from wedded bliss. Every girl?s dream, right? But then Tim declared that the wedding was off?leaving ...
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Dog Handling

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Overview

A hilarious and hip novel for every girl who’s been desperate to find a way into her dream-man’s heart–and discovered that love is more finicky than a Chihuahua in a Prada handbag.

Yesterday, Liv Elliot had it all: a great flat in London’s Notting Hill, an actual career (okay, as an accountant), and a fiancé with whom she was only weeks away from wedded bliss. Every girl’s dream, right? But then Tim declared that the wedding was off–leaving Liv shell-shocked. Luckily, she’s got her best friend’s fab Australian beach house in which to recuperate.

The restorative powers of the Sydney sun, sand, and sea soon have Liv feeling wonderfully careless, wanton, and reckless. Things really couldn’t get any more anti-accountant when she runs into old flame Ben Parker. It’s been years since they fooled around on their summer vacation, but Liv never forgot that genetically-blessed face. Raring to help her land beautiful Ben, Liv’s friends teach her the Rules of Dog Handling: Treat a man like a dog, and he’ll be eating out of your hand. But surely this can’t actually work? Liv is about to find out that it can–but she’s hardly prepared for the unexpected results.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] red-hot read . . . sure to turn up the heat.”
Cosmopolitan

“[A] SPUNKY HEROINE . . . Amid the comedy, though, the novel has a quietly confident, smart-girl sensibility. . . . Yip, yip, hooray!”
People

“Comically wicked . . . Reminiscent of Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
Publishers Weekly

“Highly creative and wildly entertaining.”
Romantic Times

From the Paperback edition.

Publishers Weekly
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 fianc , 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. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345453389
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Clare Naylor worked as an editorial assistant at a major publishing house. When her first novel, Love: A User’s Guide, was bought for the movies, she left her job to write full-time. She is also the author of Catching Alice and The Goddess Rules. With Mimi Hare, she is the coauthor of The Second Assistant. She lives in England.

From the Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Francesca Honeycomb, International Beauty, Philanthropist, and Academic, 1972-2060

Francesca Honeycomb [oh, come on, if you think that in my fantasy life I'd be noble enough to keep the name my parents gave me you've got me all wrong] lived a life without compromise. There were times she was so wasted on fabulous substances that the morning after a night of unparalleled hedonism she'd hitch a ride home on the milkfloat only to discover she'd lost her house in a game of blackjack with a Russian card shark. Fortunately, Francesca was the kind of girl that the card shark would fall madly in love with and serenade with "Down the River Mother Volga" at four in the morning. He would give her back her house and a bitten fountain pen that had belonged to Karl Marx and leave her to concentrate on her study of neoclassical armoires. But study alone couldn't hold Francesca's attention for long--she was diverted along the path of academic brilliance by the appearance of a lethal rock star and a glittering aristocrat, neither of whom she had an iota of respect for but both of whom knew how to twinkle her toes in every sense. In fact, it was not until her forties and an exhausting decade of being pursued by the most eligible and delicious men in the world that the girl who boasted the unique accolade of appearing as a guest star on Eastenders and as a panelist on Newsnight finally met the man she was to settle down with--marketing guru turned yogi Tim Evans--a man in the Terence Stamp mold [Francesca figured Terence himself may be a little past it as she approached her forties and he his seventies]. She is survived by two children with piercing blue eyes, a daughter who has just been awarded the Turner Prize and a son who lives in Falmouth with his boyfriend and their eight cats. A distraught friend said last night, "Frannie was the greatest. She spent every last penny in the bank account of life." Mourners are asked to send as many flowers as the hearse will hold but none of those awful supermarket carnations.

It was another day in the accounts department and Liv Elliot was thinking ahead. Thinking ahead to the day she died, to be precise. Newspapers across the land would be splattered with coverage of her life well lived. Her obituary would read like the blurb on a fantastic novel and everyone would agree that she hadn't wasted a moment.

"Like hell," moaned Liv, and quickly flipped the computer screen from her fantasy obituary to the work she was meant to be doing. But instead of a spreadsheet detailing company profits she was confronted by the XXX-rated pictures of Naked Brad she'd been glancing at earlier. She didn't always spend her mornings ogling electronic images of movie stars in the buff, but she was getting married in a few weeks and the strain was wreaking havoc with her brain and hormones. In short, she wanted to have mad sex with every man who walked past her desk or banged into her trolley in the supermarket. It was all getting a bit ugly.

"Liv, we need the monthly accounts before lunchtime. We've got a meeting with the board at Selfridges and I want ammunition!" Fay shouted as she bristled past Liv's desk. And what Fay wanted Fay got. Fay was Liv's superwoman, superenergetic, super-bloody-human boss who lived on Nutri-Grain snacks alone while she reared a fourteen-year-old child whose first play in Greek had just opened the Royal Court. Luckily, she'd flown past back into her office before Brad's lack of skivvies had time to register on her double-first-from-Cambridge brain.

"Sure!" Liv yelled out, and maniacally began drumming figures into her keyboard. She hated numbers. Which wasn't very useful for an accountant. If Liv had to tell a total stranger what she was all about, it wouldn't be algebra or equations or anything even remotely resembling the senior financial executive she was. She'd have a way with a musical instrument that would take her to Albert Hall for a solo performance in a taffeta dress or, even closer to her heart, she'd be the milliner out on the studio floor nestling organza into a trilby. Somehow, though, she'd become an accountant. Albeit a good one. In fact, her life could be described, to the casual onlooker, as a bit of a success story.

Liv pretty much has it all: a flat--small but great location-location-location in the heart of London's fashionable Notting Hill--a job that, even if a bit dull, is definitely better than a kick in the teeth with a cheap stiletto. And to top it all off she's got a man. To whom she's engaged to be married. So Liv's hardly a candidate for a charity sale. With half of what she's got most people would be counting their blessings and planning their next winter sun holiday. But not Liv. Not that she's ungrateful or anything, just that she's starting to panic a bit. Wondering whether she's doing the right thing, et cetera. Worrying that this is it, the end of the road, and she'll never know what it is to sleep with someone who has a record in the Top Ten or discover whether bald men really make the best lovers. This really is where the train of romance and lust stops and Liv gets off.

The trouble is, this bit is a source of embarrassment and she's never admitted it to anyone, but she's never had a one-night stand, which kind of tweaks the nipples of bra-burning feminists really. What did they get saggy boobs for if not so that girls like Liv could know the joys of regretting that last glass of wine and wondering why they hadn't noticed he was wearing a wedding ring last night?

When Liv started working at Goldsmiths, the most dusty and prestigious milliner in London, she planned to learn how to magnificently trim a boater at night classes; then one evening she would stay late, ostensibly to work on the annual financial report. The next morning everyone would come into work unsuspectingly clutching cappuccinos and croissants as usual and discover the most magnificent hat that anyone had ever seen outside of an Audrey Hepburn movie. The Hat would be resting insouciantly on a dummy, and croissants and Nutri-Grain bars would remain uneaten as everyone merely marvelled, wondering who, but who, had given birth to The Hat. For Liv's Hat would be the Platonic Ideal of hats. A prototype of wonderfulness that would have Philip Treacy, creator of the most beautiful headwear in history, meeting seedy figures in overcoats in subterranean bars negotiating just how much it would cost him to have The Marvel's legs broken. Or maybe her arms. No, on second thoughts, both. . . .

"It'll run late, too. Could you book us both a cab home for nine?" Fay did a few quad stretches as she whirred past Liv's desk again. She was off for her lunchtime run around Hyde Park. All of it. When she heard the doors of the lift close safely, Liv flipped back to Naked Brad and thought of her upcoming wedding. Her lust obsession had coincided, to the day, with her engagement. Since then she hadn't been able to stop looking at other men. And not in a "lucky me I'm marrying the only man in the world for me" type way. No, she was wondering what it would be like to . . . if she were being honest with herself . . . shag them senseless. Not very blushing bride, is it? Much more lusty, perspiring, panting in some locked stationery cupboard / seedy motel room / quickie in the back of his Audi woman-you-wouldn't-want-to-marry-in-your-darkest-nightmares type thing. But that said, she and Tim had been together for five years and she'd never once been unfaithful. It was just that simply wanting to on her wedding day would be an act of treachery and not the act of a newly married woman. A newly married woman who would never again until her dying day as long as ye both shall live know what it was like to so much as kiss someone else. So, you see, apart from that small, niggling doubt, she was blissfully happy to be getting married.

"It's not that I'm sex-mad or anything, just that I'm curious." Liv spilled Sweet'n Low all over her skirt as she and Alex settled down for a lunchtime catch-up in Patisserie Valerie.

"Had one, you've had them all," said Alex Burton, Liv's closest friend and a ferociously smart woman trapped in the body of a supermodel. "I promise that the second you so much as kiss another man it'll be like dej' vu. One tongue's the same as another and the more penises you see the more repellent and frankly ridiculous they start to look."

"But at least you can use the plural--in my life it's just a penis. Only the one. I just want to know what it's like out there."

This was a conversation that Alex and Liv had been having every day since May, when Tim had taken Liv to Blakes Hotel and proposed. In bed on a gorgeous Sunday morning, with a beautiful tombstone of a ring. The only problem was that to Liv it might as well have been a tombstone. A huge gaping grave, a creaking coffin with her inside it all bridaled up. Bridle. That's what horses wear, isn't it? Man's faithful servants. "I mean having to take his name. I'm not ready to be someone's chattel. I'm not ready to be Liv Evans. Shit, I'm not Welsh."

"You don't have to take his name. Keep your own. But you're twenty-seven; isn't it about time?" Alex sipped the froth of her cappuccino and glared in a schoolmarmish fashion at Liv.

"Time?" Liv's eyes rolled wildly in panic. A huge gong signalling Doomsday. Time to give up all your dreams and ambitions, girls. Time to admit that you're just another one of the little ants that scamper round the earth eating, getting married, procreating, and then snuffing it. No matter what you think, you're just the same as the woman who serves you in Woolworth's. You're no different from the superconfident housewives stocking up with salmon en croute in Putney Sainsbury's on Friday evening. You have the same dreams and desires as the next clone. Time? How dare Alex (who was about to collide headlong with thirty) threaten her with Time? Since when had her best friend decided that it was time to put the clock forward to GMT, Get Married Time?

Liv fiddled with her spoon and tried to resist the urge to run to Thomas Cooke across the road and book the sixty-four-pound one-way ticket to Malaga. Weren't those holiday reps for all their sunburned drunkenness at least flying in the face of convention by not exactly longing to run down the aisle at the drop of a hint from their mother? Liv simply wasn't ready. She hadn't lived the life she fantasized about. She'd never had a studio flat of her own with knickers hanging from the antique chandelier that she'd bought with her own money. For heaven's sake, she'd never even kissed a man whose name she didn't know. "Will you marry me?" is the sumptuous curtain call of a romantic encounter that has taken in shifting sand dunes and desert storms; sex and sunsets on beaches in the South Pacific; ecstatic kisses atop some mountain that only you two and a few Aztecs have ever climbed. This hallowed question is meant to be the full stop at the end of a life less ordinary. Not the beginning of a life pretty much the same as before save for a few more sticks of furniture and the addition of an infant in the box room.

"Let's go and look at some frocks," said Alex as she bolted down her Florentine. "I've seen the most amazing McQueen gown in this shop round the corner." In case you were wondering how Alex manages to bolt down Florentines and still be slim enough to utter the words Alexander McQueen you have to understand a thing or two about Alex. Mostly, that she's not like me or you. For one, she's the kind of girl you see in South Kensington patisseries and Gucci and wonder how. How come she doesn't have inky cuffs and a bullying boss? How come she can buy trouser suits in three colours and one for evening? How come life is so unfair and I have to shop in French Connection? The short answer is that if you knew how, you might be prepared to settle for French Connection.

She makes a very decent living having very rich boyfriends and immaculate hair. Her Gucci is always paid for by someone called Richard who has the same surname as a large American bank. Dinner is usually courtesy of a shipping tycoon, and the penthouse in Holland Park was a good-bye present from a seventies rock star who wanted his past to remain a secret when he got married to a French heiress with a Catholic mother. See, it's easy when you know how.

Alex discovered how by accident really. Her natural habitat as a book reviewer led her to late-night conversations with many a literary lion who would thrill at her knowledge of allegory but much prefer the journey around her Amazonian body. Alex would fall in love and give them five-star reviews and then they'd suddenly remember that they had a lioness and cubs in some den in Primrose Hill. Adieu, literary lion. Soured and fed up with men who evidently preferred her bra size to her IQ, Alex tumbled along with the old maxim if you can't beat 'em beat 'em up and sometimes whip 'em, too, as long as you never have to see your own credit card statements. Which she'd been doing lucratively for the past three years to some of the most powerful and rich men in the world. Though she claimed not to do much sex anymore.

"You just don't have to. It cheapens the product." And she would never kiss before the third date unless he was under forty and passably sexy. What's more, all her spending money came in useful for her brothers. Alex's parents had died a few years ago, leaving her solely responsible for her two younger brothers, Luke and James. She'd kept them in trainers, driving lessons, private schools, and university since that day. They didn't come cheap and they didn't get any cheaper. Luke had just been accepted to Yale University in the States and James was about to start his second year at Exeter. All bank-breaking stuff, so she gratefully accepted all the help she could get from her suitors.

Liv and Alex met via one of the literary lions five years ago. Liv was his accountant and teaching him to collect as many receipts as possible from lunch dates so they could all be written off as business expenses. Alex was his current mistress, whose shoes and salads were being written off as a business expense. The girls met in his hallway one day when his wife was in the Mull of Kintyre. They were instantly bonded in hilarity over his misconception that shiny trousers made him look taller than his five-foot-two in Cuban heels.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    3 1/2 stars!

    Dog Handling was a great book. It's not the first book by Clare Naylor that I've read, but it is the first one that falls mostly under rom-com. It has all the elements for a great story and Ms. Naylor does a great job at making them work. There were just two things that I didn't particularly enjoy much. 1)Rampant infidelity. I know it's now become a staple to fiction these days, but I still find it hard to overlook or condone, and 2)Instant love/attraction. Ben sees Liv after a prolonged period and since they have previous romantic history, immediately starts chasing her again. There wasn't any intimation of why all of a sudden Ben is chasing after Liv with everything he's got.

    But all in all, I really enjoyed the book. It's easy to like Liv, who is an accountant who has just recently been dumped before her wedding. She's given a sabbatical from work in the UK, and ends up going to Australia, where her friend Alex is currently on vacation. Ben was a little harder to like, even though he was gorgeous. I look forward to reading more by Clare Naylor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2012

    Could not bring myself to finish it

    While not poorly written, this book's plot had two problems that I couldn't get past.
    First, the characters have NO reason to be attracted to one another, and I didn't connect with or even like any of them. They do nothing worthy or entertaining or even very interesting.
    Second everyone cheats on everyone else incessantly. Really? Even if it is a true reflection of reality, I don't like my escapist fiction being full of it. In romance novels there is always something that keeps the protagonists apart, but this is the first one I have read in which that something is an existing girlfriend. Ick.
    So about 2/3 of the way through, when it became clear that no one was EVER going to do something worthy or interesting and that everyone was going to continue to cheat on everyone else I quit reading. If there had at least been some steamy sex I might have finished it for that, but sadly there wasn't even any of that.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Cute Contemporary Chic Lit Novel

    Clare Naylor has a gift with writtng. "Dog Handling" is funny, sexy, and witty. The characters are lovable, and you feel like you really get to know them. I like how Liv gets to move to Australia, and re connects with her one true love. Its very romantic. Of course, there are bumps and twists in the story, but that's what makes it a good read.
    I would recommend this book to all the people who enjoy a fun chic lit read. Naylor is a good writer. The only thing is, is that the book is a bit long. However, it was worth it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2003

    you gotta read this

    i loved her book it was sad when i was done reading. it was funny sexy and perfect. dog handling is for every girl who wished they could live life to the fullest and get their dream man and ex to grovel .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2003

    What every singles gal should read

    Dog Handling couldn't have been any funnier. With an average girl, taking on life after a few fall outs, this book couldn't have been any better. Naylor does wonderful work bringing the readers into a life of an english girl looking for love after she stumbles on to it. All three of her books are a must read and I can't wait until she comes out with more.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2003

    An awesome read for single girls looking for that thunderbolt!

    Probably my favorite book.....a fantastic read! Liv has the dream life until her fiance, whom she only has lukewarm feelings for anyways, calls off the wedding. Liv heads to Australia and finds that passion and thunderbolt she's been waiting for with a hot aussie, with whom she treats like a dog in an attempt to get him to behave correctly. Dog Handling addresses the doubts and fears of single women everywhere....does true love and passion really exists? This book definitely gives hope!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2003

    Slow But Good

    It started out slow, but once you get into about the middle of the book it's great. I loved how Liv didn't just mope around she went out there and got on with her life and her broken heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2003

    Good Read

    I just finished this book and I thought it was okay. Not the best book, but definately a beach read. If you just want a easy, fun book, this is it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2002

    Fun Read

    It was witty, cute, and REALLY fun. This would make the ultimate chic flic! Can't wait to read more of the authors books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2002

    fab book

    i loved this book. it is one of my favorites. she is a good author. i liked her other books also. i have a thing for books that take place in london, but this one mostly taking place in sydney was still great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    perfect beach read

    The cover of the book caught my eye. I did not realize how funny I thought the book was until I was reading it late one night, and my roommate came in to check on me because I was laughing so hard. This book is entertaining in every sense of the word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2002

    Okay but not great

    Throught the whole book, the main character really depressed me. I wanted to finish it, to see what would happen in the end, but I basically forced myself to get through it. Nothing too exciting happens at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    One of the Greatest Books

    This was an amazing book!!!! I would recommend this book to every woman out there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2002

    A reader from NYC

    A perfect summer read. At the beginning I wasn't sure if I would get into the book but not long after I was completely wrapped. There are several 'dog-handling' comparisons, but the author manages to not overdo it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2002

    GOOD READ

    For someone who doesn't get into reading too much, I couldn't stop reading. In the aftermath of heartbreak, Liv started a whole new life. I wish is were that easy. I loved all the characters and how it ended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2002

    What a joy to read!

    This book was such fun to read! I couldn't put it down! It takes you on an exciting adventure of humor, love, and friendship...definitely a page-turner. It made me want to hop on a plane and reconnect with some long-lost flame! Worth reading!! Get it now!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2002

    Lucky find!

    The cover of this book caught my eye, and happened to be a great find. I recommend this to all women out there...it gives you another 'playful' view at life in the dating scene!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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