An engaging debut novel of romance, parties, and expatriate life in Dubai. Maya, a globe-trotting freelancer and poet, has a complex, international background: She was born in Wisconsin to an American mother and an Iranian father, spent her childhood in Tehran, and went to school in Switzerland during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Now, after four years as an adult in Dubai, she's become accustomed to the rhythms of the global city, as have her friends--on-the-go Arkansan Janet, Lebanese human resources manager Michele, and gay Pakistani-British Asif, among others. Her biggest problem is figuring out whether her relationship with American businessman Mark, a newcomer to Dubai, is romantic or not. Author Ghassemi provides a detailed portrait of the city's malls, bars and indoor ski parks. Although her novel focuses mainly on the adventures and dramas of Maya and her friends, it also looks at the city's less luxuriant side, including the Filipino service workers and Indian construction workers who keep the city growing and operating. The book also explores what it means for a nominally Muslim region to depend on the presence of a mostly secular, Western-influenced population. The women's determined consumption of alcohol shows one of the more frivolous aspects of this cultural balancing act, but the book moves into deeper territory when it depicts Maya and Mark's trip to the Iranian island of Kish or Asif's struggle to share his life in Dubai with his husband. This is a fundamentally upbeat story, however, with happy endings in store for nearly everyone. The strong prose will likely keep readers turning pages, particularly its Arabic-sprinkled dialogue and Maya's snappy comebacks ("Hello, prosthetic skyline"). Engaging women's fiction with an international twist.