St. Martin's, Apr 2004, 24.95, 352 pp.
Amy Sherman and Tara Messer were friends and rivals for a long time though the latter always triumphed. The final contest between the two focused on Stuart Lasher. The odds favored Amy as she was engaged to Stuart. However, Amy found Tara and Stuart naked in bed together. The engagement ended. Tara and Stuart married.
Four years later, Amy works as publicity director at Manhattan's Lowry and Trammell. Her worse nightmare happens when she learns that her publishing company has picked up a lifestyle of the rich and famous book called Simply Beautiful written by Tara about Tara. Lowry and Trammell plan to make Tara the new Martha Stewart with Amy to lead the publicity beat.
Amusing absolutely as Jane Heller fan would expect from this author. However, the key to the tale is the BEST ENEMIES. Readers will commiserate with Amy even as she trumps up a lover just to save face with her rival. However, the surprise and what ultimately makes the tale superb is the audience will also feel empathy towards Tara who provides a different perspective than Amy does on the same event. Tara believes Amy owes her for absconding with the womanizing perfidious loser Stuart; surprisingly readers will ultimately agree. Ms. Heller takes a trite plot and turns it into a terrific character study that is part humor and part relationship drama.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner