Fourplay

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Overview

At age thirty-three, Josephine Miles is forced to come up with a brand-new life when her husband leaves her for "the cliche"--his very young, very pretty secretary. Suddenly she's single and back in the dating game with the added complication of children in tow. But Jo's no wallflower, and she soon finds herself with not one but four eligible bachelors vying for her time and affections. Add her two kids and her now booming interior design business to the mix, and she winds up ...
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2002 Trade Paperback Grade: C Catalog: Fiction Contemporary Synopsis: 371 pages. At age thirty-three, Josephine Miles is forced to come up with a brand-new life when her husband ... leaves her for 'the cliche'-his very you... Read more Show Less

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Fourplay

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Overview

At age thirty-three, Josephine Miles is forced to come up with a brand-new life when her husband leaves her for "the cliche"--his very young, very pretty secretary. Suddenly she's single and back in the dating game with the added complication of children in tow. But Jo's no wallflower, and she soon finds herself with not one but four eligible bachelors vying for her time and affections. Add her two kids and her now booming interior design business to the mix, and she winds up with a nightmarish schedule but a dreamy love life.

So who are the contestants? There's Sean, the sexy foreign affairs correspondent who sweeps Jo off her feet and proves to be masterful in bed; Martin, the music industry mogul who offers luxury, stability, and a glamorous lifestyle; and Conor, Jo's trusted confidant, who knows just what to say to make her smile (why hadn't she noticed his irresistible smile until now?). Then there's Jeff, her ex-husband: she wouldn't consider hooking up with him again, would she? It could happen--especially when Jeff's romance with the sweet young thing sours and he launches a full-scale campaign to win Jo back.

Sophisticated, spirited, and as compulsive as a box of bonbons, Fourplay offers a new take on the single-girl life perfect for the thirty-something audience. Fourplay--what a position to be in...

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
British Raves For FOURPLAY:

"Fancy an extended gossip session with mates? Well, that's exactly what Jane Moore's novel feels like...Hilarious cynicism about relationships that will appeal to anyone who's ever lost in love. As therapeutic for heartbreak as a voodoo doll!" --Glamour

"Moore's endearing exuberance and sense of humor are seductive, while the male cast and sex scenes are trashy good fun." --Times (London)

"A feel-good read, which sparkles with Jane Moore's trademark funny one-liners." --Elle

"A fairy tale for grown-ups." --Marie Claire

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767913003
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/23/2002
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A multimedia personality, JANE MOORE is a columnist for the Sun (London) and Hello!, writes regular features for the Sunday Times (London), is cohost of the television show Live Talk, and appears daily on BBC-TV. She lives in London.
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Read an Excerpt

1

To this day, she doesn't know what made her do it. Feminine intuition perhaps.

The day started the same as any other. Jo was rushing around getting the kids ready for school; Jeff was rushing around thinking only of himself. As usual, he had already asked several moronic questions as if he were merely a guest in the house in which they'd lived for four years. "Where are the clean towels? Is there any milk? How does the central heating timer work? We're running out of toilet paper" And so on. It was a never-ending assault on Jo's senses, like having a third child.

Trouble was, Jeff was one of those men who had grown up with a mother who did everything for him. All his life, he had been accustomed to just dropping an item of clothing on the floor and not seeing it again until it miraculously reappeared in his closet, washed, ironed, and hung neatly on a padded hanger. Jo suspected Jeff's mother prided herself on being there to catch her son's discarded clothing before it touched the floor. There was little doubt she had been disappointed by her son's choice of such a shambolic, disheveled wife.

This morning, the Planet Hollywood T-shirt Jo had worn in bed the night before was tucked into a pair of baggy-bummed, black tracksuit bottoms, and her dark-blond hair was scraped back into a messy ponytail. On her feet were a pair of those flat airline socks designed for people with no ankle, heel or arch.

Thomas and Sophie were sitting at the breakfast table. Thomas, who was eight, wore only the bottoms of his Batman pajamas; the top was tied around his head like a pint-size commando. His shock of blond hair was in its early morning Woody Woodpecker style, and he was spilling cornflakes over the floor as he turned to watch the TV set flickering in the corner.

Like most six-year-old girls, Sophie was in her pink phase. Barbie pink phase to be more precise, with Barbie nightdress and slippers, and a Barbie hairslide wedged on one side of her head, giving her hair the attractive swept-over look favored by Arthur Scargill. She was drawing a misshapen heart on a piece of scrap paper with one hand and eating a jam-covered bagel with the other.

Jo was frantically buttering two rounds of Marmite sandwiches for their lunchboxes when Jeff burst into the kitchen adjusting his tie. He had two pieces of tissue stuck to his face where he'd cut himself shaving.

"Have you been using my razor on your legs again? It's blunt."

"No." Jo wiped a buttery finger on her trouser leg. Well, it wasn't strictly a lie. She had used the razor...but on her bikini line.

Jeff looked businesslike in a dark-blue Jasper Conran suit and royal-blue shirt. His hair was still damp from the shower and combed back in the Gordon Gecko "lunch-is-for-wimps" look favored by the eighties yuppie. As soon as it dried it fell forward into a more attractive flop, making him look less like a solicitor, Jo thought. Jeff was a partner in a local practice that relied heavily on conveyancing work, divorces and legal aid cases. It wasn't exactly Skadden, Arps, but it paid the bills.

"Where's my...?"

"Behind the door." Jo answered him before he could complete the question he asked every morning.

Grabbing his briefcase, he rushed up to each of the children and kissed the top of their heads.

"Be good, you two," Jo mouthed to herself.

"Be good, you two." Jeff''s voice was in perfect sync with her mime.

"Daddy, look!" said Sophie excitedly, waving a scrap of paper at him as he headed out of the kitchen door. "This is for you."

Clearly irritated by this delay, Jeff stopped in his tracks and came back to the cluttered table where Sophie was brandishing her little drawing of a heart. "To daddy, lots of love, Sophie" was scribbled on it.

"That's a lovely apple, darling," he said, glancing at it then leaving it on the table. Jo's heart lurched as she saw the disappointment on her daughter's face.

"Silly daddy, it's a heart, isn't it, sweetie?" she said, picking up the drawing and holding it out to Jeff. "Here, take it to work and pin it on your wall."

With an ostentatious I'm-a-terribly-busy-person sigh, he threw his briefcase onto the table and flipped open the lid. Inside was a packet of photographs. "Oh here, I forgot. I got that film developed. There are some nice snaps of you and the kids from that weekend at your mum and dad's." He threw the packet on the table.

"Thanks. What time will you be home tonight?" Jo tried desperately to sound casual. It was her greatest fear in life that she might turn into a nagging wife, but life with Mr. Slippery sometimes made this hard to avoid.

"Not sure. Got a late meeting I think. Call you later." And he was gone.

She stood and stared down the hallway as the front door closed behind him, and wondered at what point they had stopped communicating with each other. He had stopped kissing her good-bye in the mornings some months ago, and it now seemed their lives were linked by little other than the children and a hefty mortgage.

She sent the children upstairs for their morning ritual of washing faces and cleaning teeth, then wandered down the hallway to the large, sunny room at the front of their Victorian semi in leafy west London.

She stood in the bay window and let other people's lives wash over her for a moment. The block of flats opposite was always a good source of amusement, whether it was the gay couple in 4c having a loud row with all the windows open, or Mrs. Hobbs, the eighty-year-old woman who lived on the ground floor. Jo had made quite an effort to get to know her when they had first moved in, knowing she would be useful for keeping a curtain-twitching eye on the house whenever they were out. Then, one day, when they were chatting about the other residents in the block, Mrs. Hobbs had brought the subject round to the poetically-suited Derek and Eric in 4c.

"They're homosapiens you know," she whispered conspiratorially, screwing up her deeply wrinkled face in disapproval.

Jo laughed, and replied, "So am I." Mrs. Hobbs had given her a wide berth ever since.

This morning, a smartly dressed young couple came out of the communal doorway, both clutching briefcases and umbrellas. It was starting to drizzle slightly, and he took her umbrella from her, opened it out, and handed it back. It was a simple act of consideration, but one that reminded Jo of how detached her and Jeff's lives had become. Those little gestures were so important. Someone pouring you a drink before you'd got around to asking for one, running you a bath because you looked tired, or opening your umbrella before you even thought of doing it yourself. The last time Jeff had done anything for her had been about six months ago when she was struck down by food poisoning. And that was only because he had to, she thought ruefully. The young couple shared a tender kiss and went their separate ways.

With a sigh, Jo walked back through to the kitchen, pausing briefly at the foot of the stairs. "Get a move on you two, your uniforms are on your beds." She picked up the photographs from where they lay on the kitchen table, half-covering Sophie's heart drawing which, after all that, Jeff had forgotten to take.

The first two pictures were of her dad, Jim, peering around the door of his potting shed at her parents' Oxford home, where he did more pottering than potting. It was his refuge from Jo's mother, Pam, and he would spend his time reading old crime novels or trying to have a crafty fag without being nagged to death. Jo often wondered why they were still together as they seemed to have so little in common. A couple of years earlier she had asked her father that exact question and he'd replied, rather bitterly she thought, "Saves spoiling another couple."

The next few photographs showed her mother, pinched and uptight, standing with the children on the small patio area at the back of the house. She was not a naturally affectionate woman and obviously found it difficult having them to stay. Thomas hated going there because his grandparents' television was too old to accommodate his PlayStation--a blessed relief as far as Jo was concerned. The thought of her mother catching sight of "Mortal Kombat" was right up there with another Status Quo comeback concert on the list of things you don't want to see. And as for Sophie, Jo lived in constant fear of her breaking one of the hideous but plentiful ornaments that adorned the neat little bungalow with its ruched lace curtains and latticed windows.

Adding to the stress of staying with her parents was the fact that Jo worked as an interior designer, and had been itching to get her hands on their dreadful decor for years.

"Don't come here with your fancy ideas," her mother said sharply when Jo once dared to suggest redecorating. "We like it this way."

The rest of the photographs were taken up with Sophie's sixth birthday party at the house, a couple of weeks after their Oxford visit.

Jo and Jeff had invited fifteen of Sophie's friends along and booked a children's entertainer to keep them occupied. But on the morning of the party "Jolly Jake" had rung to say he had flu and couldn't make it, so Jeff got out his old guitar and tried to amuse the children with his appalling rendition of "Smoke on the Water." Within seconds of one of Sophie's more forward friends declaring, "Your dad's crap," he had resorted to putting on the Spice Girls CD and took several photographs of all the children high-kicking their way around the room to the torturous strains of "Wannabe."

Jo's brow furrowed as she patted the photographs into a neat pile to place back in the packet. There didn't seem to be enough. She counted them. Nineteen prints out of a possible twenty-four. Strange, she thought. The film had been developed digitally so there were no negatives, just a small plastic cassette. The contact sheet that usually came with them was nowhere to be seen.

"Can I see them, mum?" Thomas had come back downstairs and was looking over her shoulder. Sophie stood in the doorway picking her nose, with her school skirt tucked into the back of her knickers.

"No, we haven't got time now. You can both see them when you get back from school. Come on." Jo stuffed the photographs into her overflowing handbag and they all headed out of the door.

It was still niggling her as she walked to the local shops after dropping off the children. Only nineteen prints and no contact sheet. Maybe the shop had cocked up the developing and were trying to pull a fast one. Most people would have let it go, but Jo could be obsessive about detail. Her best friend Rosie called her anal retentive.

So, fifteen minutes later, she walked through Boots to the photographic counter at the back. The place was quiet except for a confused pensioner with a problem she couldn't quite get to grips with. The assistant was speaking in loud, deliberate tones.

"You've used the same film twice, madam," she bellowed, showing some woman a picture of herself in ghostly form standing over some bougainvillea.

A bored second assistant came out from a back room. Silently, she extended a hand in Jo's direction.

"Hello, could I have another set of prints and a contact sheet off this please?" Jo handed over the little cassette.

"When d'ya want 'em for?" She had six gold studs in one ear and a necklace which spelled out the name "Cheyenne."

"Cost ya."

"That's fine. I'll be back at about ten-thirty then."

She headed for a little French cafe just down the road, stopping briefly to buy a copy of the Sun. Heaven was a child-free time slot in which to read a newspaper from cover to cover.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 20 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    Somewhat uninspired

    If you are looking for a sparkling and refreshing addition to the current glut of novels about 30-something women selecting agonizing over which of many available men her will make her glossy, modern life complete, then I would suggest that you give Fourplay a wide berth. Every cliche in the book is thrown into a giant pot, liberally peppered with trite sound-bites & other people's jokes, and then stewed for around 100 pages too long. There are no real surprises here: unaware of her own beauty & apparent devastating effect on the opposite sex, 30+ mother of two discovers her autonomy when her husband leaves her for his pert secretary. Along the way she has the luxury of choosing whether to take back her contrite husband or pursue the other available options: an unexciting yet "safe" millionaire, a sexy & dangerous cad, or the sensitive, gentle and handsome family friend who has suffered unrequited love for her since his teens. Can you guess which one she chooses?? Throughout her rather predictable journey of self-discovery Jo is accompanied by a rather unsavory triumvirate, consisting of yet more hackneyed (not to mention plagiarized) cardboard cut-outs: the overly critical mother with a sibling blind-spot is a thoroughly undisguised hybrid of Bridget Jones' mother & Mrs. Geller from Friends, the wise-cracking and somewhat plain best friend is lifted from countless other sources (The Truth About Cats and Dogs springs most readily to mind), and Jo's over-grown schoolboy of a brother has been tarred with the failed acting career of Joey Tribbiani, the failed love-life of a pre-Monica Chandler Bing and (most unfortunately of all) Harry Enfield's sense of humour. You will do well to find anything new between these pages: the majority of the "quirky" one-liners that litter each page are unoriginal at best. At worst, they are painful gauche and clumsy ( "Relationships are like tampons; they always have strings attached" ~ please, tell me, who on earth converses like this?!). The plot takes several turns, but these are presented as isolated incidents rather than fitting together seamlessly or even being piled one atop the other as would surely be the case for a woman whose life has allegedly descended into unstructured chaos. All of the standards are there: the moment of epiphany regarding her parent's relationship, inspired by a cosy father/daughter chat in the potting shed (Helen Fielding should sue!), the awkward dinner party blind date set-up (ditto), and the obligatory name-checking of 70's kitschenalia such as Monster Munch and Leif Garrett and the obligatory family tragedy that brings many home-truths to the surface. The narrative is just about adequate enough to keep you reading until the end, although if you have not correctly guessed the outcome by page 42 you are in dire need of a good optician to treat your myopia, but overall the novel limps rather lamely towards an uninspired conclusion. That's not to say that Fourplay is necessarily a bad novel. It is inoffensive, escapist fluff which allows the reader to disengage the brain in much the same way as immersing yourself in an episode of Neighbours. The characters and plot twists are equally as "real" as any found in a soap-opera. There are some key moments which, despite their predictability, push the right emotional and intellectual buttons and are genuinely touching, but unfortunately these are few and far between. This has been done more convincingly, and without the vertiginous cringe-factor, by other authors. Fourplay is not bad, it's just not really all that good.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2013

    One of the reasons I am a fan of the Chick-Lit genre is how the

    One of the reasons I am a fan of the Chick-Lit genre is how the stories resonate with me. The plots, characters, emotions, wit, sarcasm, and the humor are all elements I find so easy to relate to. Fourplay was no exception. This story and the lead character, Jo, drew me in quickly. Anyone who has had a long term relationship end unexpectedly and badly can see themselves in this story. Anyone who has had their trust betrayed by their spouse and has to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and start over will easily connect to this story. 




    One of the things I liked about Jo was her determination to move forward through her husband’s adultery. She allowed herself to shatter and fall apart, but she didn’t stay there. She got up and began rebuilding her life. She restarts her career, takes care of her children, and takes her life back. Healing is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight, but Jo is a wonderful example of a woman who does exactly that. I loved that Jo is receptive to new relationships but that she doesn’t rebound commit to the first man who crosses her path. I had a lot of anticipation reading the book trying to figure out who she would ultimately end up with. 




    A very interesting aspect of this story was Jeff, Jo’s ex-husband. I found his character defects and flaws quite interesting and witnessing his behavior and treatment of Jo is typical of a man who is weak and selfish. His attempt to win Jo back when his fling fizzles out came as no surprise to me. As Jo’s life seems to shine as she becomes stronger and more self-confident, Jeff’s seems to become the opposite. I enjoyed seeing Jeff eating some Karma pie, but I also pitied him. I thought it was sad that a self-made successful attorney on the outside was so weak and pathetic on the inside that he threw everything away instead of working on his problems with Jo. I especially loved it when Jo actually tells him that she should thank him for walking out on her and the kids. 




    I also enjoyed all of the other supporting characters. Jo’s brother, her best friend, her parents and the prospective love connections added to the story in unique ways. Jo’s brother was entertaining and her best friend was a god-send. Jo depends on them a lot and I loved that they were there for her. I empathized with Jo about the relationship she has with her parents. Jo’s mother was overbearing and hard to tolerate and Jo struggles with it for most of the book. Towards the end, we get a wonderful twist that gives Jo a whole new outlook on her relationship with her parents, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked each of the men Jo dates, some more than others. They were all unique and being with each of them brings Jo a wonderful opportunity to figure out who she is once again. 




    Overall, a very good story of one woman’s journey to rebuild her life after betrayal ends her marriage. I recommend this for readers of romance who enjoy strong female characters who refuse to let life’s roadblocks keep them from pursuing happiness. 

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  • Posted August 17, 2012

    Insightful, real, romantic, a surprise find!

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Sometimes women think that when they marry, everything eventually works out, everything will fall into place, and they don't have to try anymore. This book puts into perspective how easily it can be to take the person you're with for granted, how it feels to have been left, or how it feels to be the possible cause of destroying someone else's life. It shows us the outcomes of staying in a marriage "because of the kids" versus thinking about the your happiness or that of the relationship. Jeff, Sean, Martin, and Connor all respresent a different type of guy or a different type of relationship, and it's good to see what Jo thinks and how she comes to her decisions. The humor lifts the seriousness of the topics, the romance keeps the plot thrilling, and the characters keep you interested. It is a romantic, thrilling, humorous, and touching story.

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  • Posted February 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fourplay Fun

    I am almost done with this book..it is really good. However when you read the back, you would think the male characters would be mentioned more in the book. Some of them dont come in till the middle of the book.
    Its a quick read and fun for the beach or a winters night and I did enjoy it.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    Loved Fourplay

    I think the fact that it took place in England and the characters being so relateable made this a good, quick read. It moved pretty quick after the 3-4th chapters and loved how everything came together. Because of the back cover, I did expect a little more of some of the characters,but enjoyed it anyway.

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  • Posted December 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    4 guys 1 choice

    All in all I enjoyed this book. It took me 2 days to get through it and I had a lot of laugh out loud moments. I believe that the characters were well-developed. I only had a problem with how naive Jo was. I felt that she was completely oblivious to reality. She got herself together by the end, but I felt that towards the middle I was wondering, "Why isn't she getting the picture!" I believe I was Rosie in the story...at least in the sense that she knew what was going on and wasn't afriad to put her opinion out there. Also, I don't mind cussing and whatever, but I felt Moore went a little too far sometimes. Anyway, if you enjoy a good read and like the "F" word...then this book is for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Second Chances, New Opportunities

    Let¿s face it. The world is now riddled with divorces. Women are forced to think whether this is the kind of man they¿d want their kids to spend their weekend with whenever they meet someone. Nowadays, if a husband doesn¿t stray, it is considered a `bonus¿. However, our feature lady in this book did not get that `bonus.¿ One sunny morning in the tenth year of her marriage, Jo Miles finds a photo that would change her life forever. Her husband, Jeff, confesses that the blonde bombshell in the picture is `the love of his life¿ and decides to walk out on Jo and their two children for `Candy¿ ( short for Candida). Jo needs to start all over again as a single woman, but this time, with two kids in tow, she knows she isn¿t exactly `hot dating material¿. However, she is proven wrong when a bevy of suitors come knocking ¿ her brother¿s best friend who has always loved her from the start, sexy suave cameraman Sean who orchestrates a little `accident¿ by hitting her car from behind and asking for her number, a successful record executive who tries to woo Jo with his money and promises of rock concerts for her kids and of course, a humbled and remorseful husband Jeff who, after a year of dangling his young and seductive `cliché¿ in front of Jo, admits that he has made a mistake for something so `superficial.¿ It is up to Jo to choose the path she needs to take: whether she should follow her own choices or to do the appropriate thing for her children that might mean hindering her chance at true happiness. Jo Miles is a likable character, who sometimes succumb to warranted vengeful thoughts, but at the core of it always puts the needs of her children before her. The author has also cleverly placed Jo as `the other woman¿ through one of her after marital relationships and readers will be absolutely proud of how Jo handles it. You go girl! Moore has also touched on the often confusing mother/daughter relationship in the way she depicts Jo and Pam, and how in the end the difficult mother Jo had always thought Pam was is actually the source of her inspiration for the decision she ultimately makes. The book will leave you with a good feeling because it gives you hope that a woman who has been devastated by heartbreak and betrayal can actually pick up the pieces of her life and embark on another better journey ¿ that life does not end just because someone you loved and trusted abandoned you. However, there is one closure this reader would like to see ¿ that is to humiliate the homewrecker. Now, that would have been the icing on the top of the cake for any woman out there who has been victimized by an evil, repulsive third party who does not give two hoots about destroying a marriage. A good, entertaining laugh/cry story that can appeal to all women ¿ married or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    Fun

    This wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was fun nonetheless. The characters were fun and genuinely likable. I especially loved Conor. The plot was enjoyable even if the slightest bit overdone. Overall, this book was a light-hearted read. A good choice if you're looking for something to fill an afternoon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    could not put it down

    this is such a sentimental, fun book. highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    Fantastic!!!

    Fourplay is a fabulous book that you can relate to, and have a good laugh at. Once I started I couldn't stop reading it. The irony in the book just adds to everything. Definately recommended to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2003

    Absolutely Hilarious

    This book made me laugh-out-loud. I was impressed with all the witty and sarcastic characters that permeate this novel. Truly, I found this book to be purely enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2003

    Great for a recently brokenheart!

    A wonderful book about the trials and tribulations women go through in finding Mr. Right and of course the happy ending at the end gives some of us single gals out there a new found hope in love...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2002

    You have to read it

    I loved this book! My friends wouldn't let me read it untill I was done with finals because they knew I would just read and not study. They were right I did not want to put this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2002

    Fourplay gets 5 stars!

    I took this book on vacation and could not put it down. The characters are all well developed and you truly care what happens to each one. I look forward to Jane Moore's next book; I will buy it in a heartbeat!

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    Posted November 2, 2008

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    Posted November 30, 2011

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    Posted January 9, 2009

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    Posted December 6, 2009

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    Posted March 3, 2011

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    Posted December 1, 2011

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