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Inappropriate Men

Inappropriate Men

3.8 16
by Stacey Ballis

"Don't get me wrong. There was — there is — much love between my husband and me. We aren't miserable, we just aren't happy. And we aren't really together that much — it didn't used to seem to matter. But it's starting to matter. It's starting to matter very much indeed."

With her marriage spiraling toward divorce, sexually confident and


"Don't get me wrong. There was — there is — much love between my husband and me. We aren't miserable, we just aren't happy. And we aren't really together that much — it didn't used to seem to matter. But it's starting to matter. It's starting to matter very much indeed."

With her marriage spiraling toward divorce, sexually confident and unapologetically sized-24 Sidney Stein finds herself drawn into an illicit affair with Geoffrey Fahl — not only married and twenty years her senior, but also her father's business partner. Perilously close to falling in love with this man who is so very wrong for her and knowing there's no future in the relationship, Sidney decides it's time to turn her life around.

Newly separated from her husband, Sidney dives into the dating pool. And after more than a dozen dates, a disastrous transitional guy and reconnecting with a high school crush, she can't help but wonder if it might not just be easier to let herself drown. But just as she stops looking for the ideal man, someone else arrives . . .and he might just be everything she never knew she always wanted.

Experience the love, joy and heartbreak of Sidney Stein in Stacey Ballis's debut novel. Neither pat nor predictable, Inappropriate Men is laugh-out-loud funny without compromising intelligence.

Product Details

Red Dress Ink
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

Inappropriate Men

By Stacey Ballis

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-25055-X

Chapter One


There is a pleasure sure

In being mad which none but madmen know.

There is a pleasure in poetic pains. Which only poets know. - John Dryden - William Wordsworth

Geoffrey M. Fahl, Esq. is holding my hand.

Now I know that this may seem a rather insignificant detail to you, but to me, this is the probably the best, and certainly most unexpectedly fabulous thing that has happened in a very long time. I suppose that what I am finding interesting about this little bit of random human contact with the esteemed Mr. Fahl is that it is forbidden and wrong on so many levels that I am loath to admit to myself that I am awfully intrigued about what it might mean.

Perhaps I should begin with the fact that Mr. Fahl is, at this moment, sitting on my right in the last occupied row of a small movie theatre, and that the hand holding mine bears on its fourth finger a wedding band. I did not place it there. Additionally, it may be worthy of note, on the end of my left arm is a hand that is tingling and dewy, jealous of the attention my right hand currently enjoys, and that this hand too feels the weight of a thin band of gold, a small diamond solitaire, representing years of living with a man who is most definitely not Mr.Fahl seems reasonably casual about this entire situation, and yet is not coming off as a practiced Lothario. He just seems bored by the film, bold enough to make contact, and right now his thumb is making lazy circles on the fleshy pad below my thumb, and my thumb is gently stroking the first joint on his pointer finger, and the whole arrangement seems to be the most exhilarating and intimate of activities.

Several thoughts cross my mind all at once. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I am an evil seductress. I am making a huge mistake. I am a slut. I am having the best time. Nothing will ever be the same.

As it turns out, the statements are all true.

Of course I don't know that at this moment, I am concentrating only on the feel of his hand in mine, the way our arms are touching along their length with an easy pressure. The way our legs are aligned, connected at the knee. The feel of his pulse beneath my fingers. The light scent of his cologne, the rhythm of his breathing. I am trying to remember how it happened, what made it okay, why we ended up here, like this, connected and disconnected, full of strange promise.

It is blurry.

I remember wanting to see the movie, and that my husband was out of town. I remember my girlfriend Pam blowing me off, and the decision to go alone. I remember arriving at the theatre to discover that the listing in the paper was wrong and that I was an hour early. I remember sitting at a table in the café next to the theatre, and perusing The Reader, Chicago's weekly alternative paper, even though it was last week's, and I had already read the really important bits, like News of the Weird, and Savage Love. And I remember the voice breaking into my concentration.


I looked up into a face I recognize from all the Fun events (Functions and Fund-raisers and Funerals), which I have occasion to attend with my parents. A face I had always found strangely appealing, despite its quirky crookedness. Despite its age. Despite its being attached to the personage of a partner in my dad's law firm, married to a woman who serves on three different boards with my mother, one of which happens to be the Women's Auxiliary Board for the college where I happen to teach. I think it was the eyes. Really lovely blue, twinkly sparkly starkly blue, with the tiniest squinty quality, as if he is always pondering something important, which may be why you don't really notice the eyes till you are right up on them. He is smiling hopefully at me, and his brow is furrowed in a way which makes me think that it is somehow important to him that I remember who he is.

"Mr. Fahl, you startled me. What an unexpected pleasure to bump into you, how have you been?"

He seems chuffed, and lowers his head a bit.

"Geoff, please. I have been very well, thank you, and yourself?"

"Can't complain, really. Busy as usual. What brings you to the neighborhood?"

"Movie next door. Paper got the time wrong, so I am early and came in here for a coffee and to waste an hour."

"Ditto. Please, join me? Save me from reading the personal ads?"

"Absolutely. And I promise not to tell your husband you were reading the personals."

"Tell him if you like, just don't tell him I am thinking of PLACING an ad."

Mr. Fahl - Geoff to his friends - which apparently now includes myself, laughs.

"Your secret is safe with me. Will he be joining us?"

"He is out of town on business for the week. And Mrs. Fahl?"

"She is also away."

"If we were the suspicious sort we might think they were having an affair!"

"I suppose they could suspect the same of us, especially after the slumber party incident."

"This is a good point." We laugh together.


So a little over a year ago, maybe a year and a half previous to tonight's fateful movie house meeting, my mother calls me with a completely strange proposition. Did I want to spend a night in the Shedd Aquarium? Now, on the one hand, my love of all things aquatic might make this a logical offer, were it not for the fact that I am not TEN YEARS OLD, and there is something really bizarre about a thirty-one-year-old woman with a husband and a Master's degree spending the night in a sleeping bag at a museum with god knows how many strangers. Sigh. My mother means well, she is a totally fabulous batty lady whom I dote upon, but here and there she gets these really ridiculous ideas, which usually involve me, a portion of my limited free time, and an event that is deeply tedious. As I am for all intents and purposes an only child, (my sister Naomi is eight years my senior, and lives in New York with her husband and kids, and we see each other once a year at most, and my brother Adam, two years my junior, is living and working in London for the time being) I have no siblings available to take up the slack when it comes to dutiful child responsibilities. All the "great things" parents have a tendency to volunteer you for because they think you would have such a" good time. "The parking lot duty for the art fair, filling the last empty seat at their table for any number of rubber chicken dinners in support of diseases, the arts and Jews in general (sometimes in support of diseased Jewish artists for a grand slam), donating myself at silent auctions to lead book discussions or give one-on-one workshops in the writing and performance of poetry.

I love Mom, she means well, it is easier to acquiesce, so I am scheduled for a Slumber at the Shedd event, complete with seafood buffet dinner which is (a) a little creepy considering we are at the aquarium and the fish will be watching us chow down on their cousins, and (2) annoying, because I don't eat seafood.

At least I can drag my husband Mark to this one, and eerily enough he seems excited about it, which, for whatever reason makes me irritated with him. I suppose it is important to acknowledge that of late, most of what he says and does makes me irritated with him.

And by "of late," I mean for the last couple of years or so.

But that is not particularly relevant at this moment; we will deal with it later.

Long story short, we go to the aquarium, find a good spot to camp out near the seahorse exhibit, hit the buffet, (where I show solidarity with my fine-finned friends by eating only salad and rolls, and Mark calmly eats his way through about three pounds of shrimp, crab legs, mussels marinara and baked cod as if he has never seen seafood before) and begin to wander through the exhibits, all of which have been lit to show us what happens to the seas and rivers at night. A great deal of it is very interesting, or would have been, except most of the guests are families with small children, and these little people are out past their bedtime, and many are behaving badly. Mark is tired, (probably from all the strenuous digestion) so we head over to our little nook and try to sleep. Sleep is impossible. Ever notice how your house or apartment makes those strange noises you can only hear when you can't fall asleep? Well, imagine the racket an entire museum makes. Around 2:00 a.m. I get out of my sleeping bag and go for a walk. They have limited the "camping" areas to the gallery spaces, which leaves the central tank and its surrounding grottos blissfully free of dozing patrons. I find a small cave and wander in to watch the parade of the nocturnal ocean life, at this hour consisting primarily of sharks, rays and one sea turtle. I adore sharks. They are truly fascinating creatures. So serene, yet with an underlying dangerous quality. So clearly perfectly designed for their environment. So, so very, well ...


There is a tired-looking man sitting behind me in my little hide-out. "Excuse me?"

"Elegant. The sharks, they are the most elegant fish in existence, don't you think?" He looks very familiar to me but I can't place him, and the pale blue-green light from the tank settles in the lines on his face, and the shadows of the big fish as they pass by glide over his features making them so much jumbled nonsense. Plus, I took my contacts out when I thought sleep was a possibility.


Excerpted from Inappropriate Men by Stacey Ballis Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Short and simple - did not like this one. Way too much language, sex and the like. I was just darn annoyed that a married woman honestly started an affair with another guy. If you are a fan of the vulgar, this one is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had its moments of humor and Sidney is a somewhat funny, powerful character. The best parts of the book were her cooking and interaction with friends such as Parker and her brother Adam. Other than that, I was superbly annoyed with her constant immoral adultery, whining and poetry. I skipped through all the poetry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first this book was witty and funny with rather clever writing. However, after about a third of the book it seemed to drone on and never seemed to get to any real plot except for Sidney's tiring rantings about Geoff. I was rather annoyed that Sidney spoke of almost nothing else. I wasn't sure if I would ever make it through the entire book but I trudged through as I hate to start a book and not read to the conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stacey Ballis has really outdone herself. This book made me laugh, cry, and hungry all at the same time! I read it in two days, and I can't wait for Sleeping Over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really did have high hopes with this book. I was excited to finally have a novel based on a 'real' woman. I'm really not sure what happened, but halfway through the book I just got very annoyed with Sidney and just couldn't get myself to finish the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was outstanding. A must read for women everywhere!! I will definitely read anything by Stacey Ballis. She is coming out with a new book in April 2005 called 'Sleeping Over', I can't wait. Excellent, Excellent, Excellent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In real like woman aren't a perfect size 0, with perfectly unattached (and desirable) gorgeous men falling at their feet, they don't have a clothing budget that rivals the national debt of some countries and they do quite often break the rules. Sid is the perfect real woman, so she's a size 24 - who cares? so her marriage fails - who's hasn't? so she gets involved with a married man - obviously this *does* happen... I loved the quick pace of the book and the backstory reflections, the poetry perfectly captured Sid's moods - I found it to be a very enjoyable read... great job, can't wait for the next one !
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Cause lemme tell you, I did that several times while reading this one. And when I wasn't dropping the book, I was dropping my jaw at the guts of both the main character and the writer. I love that the heroine is vulnerable, and still able to kick a little butt when necessary...I love that she writes poetry and cooks and buys little tables and does all those little things we all do, things that take a character from just a fictional creation to someone you wish you could hang out with (and I mean that less in a 'How come strong-but-silent-brooding-heroes only exist in romance novels?' way, and more in a 'Dang, what a cool girl!' way). The plotline is great, the writing sophisticated but not stilted, the ending is deliciously ambiguous (maybe a sequel?), and the characters (obviously) are human and irresistible. This is a fun, worthwhile, substantial book, and anybody who doesn't read it and fall in love instantly is crazy. Or has bad taste. Or both.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not much of a reader. I lack both the discipline and attention span. However, I LOVED this book!! It didn't even feel like I was reading. It was almost as if I was sitting across from Sidney, just talking about her life. A life much like mine that it was almost scary. I felt as though I was reading about my own life. The struggles Sid had with her married lover floored me, because I am in a similar relationship. Her feelings about Geoff I could really identify with. Anyway, Stacey did a wonderful job with this book...and I look forward to reading more from her in the very near future!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I keep reading chicklit novels, hoping I'll find one as smart as the women who are supposed to be reading them. I found this book in the store last week, and decided to take another chance. Am I ever glad I did! Sidney, the book's heroine, is smart, funny and dealing with problems that any woman who is or has been single can relate to. I cheered out loud for her when she finally...well, I'm not going to give that away. I say, treat yourself to this book! You won't be sorry, but you may be unable to go back to most chicklit again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is hard to believe that this is the first book that Stacey Ballis has written. Not only is the format clever but the character development is outstanding. You feel like Sidney, the main character, is sitting in a chair next to you telling you her life story and you just don't want her to stop. I just did not want the book to end, but I also could not put it down. Finally, one night I nodded off to sleep with about 50 pages left to go. I was looking forward to spending an hour or two sitting outside the next day with Sidney seeing how things ended, but I could not wait. I woke up at 3 am that morning and had to finish. And the ending was even better than the beginning. So instead of reading the rest of the book that day, I sat down and made a list of everyone I thought would like the book and either sent them a copy or an email telling them where to find the book. Stacey Ballis is an author that is worth keeping your eye on. My single life was so boring compared to Sidney's, but I could still relate to it. Anyone who has ever been on a date or knows someone who has will find themselves identifying with Sidney at some point in the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! The story is fresh and exciting, the characters relatable, and it makes me miss my old home town of Chicago! I would recommend it to anyone who is tired of the same old chicklit. Keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Be prepared. Once you start Inappropriate Men, you are not going to want to stop. Keep food and beverages nearby, turn off the phone, and settle in for a book that is going to make you laugh out loud, get a little teary-eyed, and most importantly, root for the heroine with all your might. The perfect way to kick off your Spring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so hopeful this was going to be a great new book in chick lit, boy was I disappointed. I only made it half way through the book. The poems got on my last nerve. The character was an obsessive baby. I would not let my dog read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so great - it was such a nice change from the same-old-same-old chick lit! Makes me want to visit Chicago and visit all the cool places she wrote about. Check out the author's website for some of the great recipes you read about in the book. Can't wait for more books by Stacey Ballis!!!