YES. Read this book.

Ignore the dumb title. Overlook the bizarre, consistent misspellings of names (Brittany Spears? Ashley Simpson? Why?) and the smattering of editing flubs. I’m inclined to quit books for less – if the editor didn’t read it, why should I? – but this story’s as well-woven as it is poorly proofread.

The narrative follows two women, Samantha and Melody, connected by one man: Nathan. Melody, his student, is hot-for-teacher; Samantha, his wife, is conflicted about her job, her marriage, her life’s purpose. Osterkamp sets up the two characters for a messy collision from the start.

No impossibly glamorous jobs here, and real-life ugliness is not ignored. Melody has a selfish, abusive mother, whom she loves in spite of herself, because who else says “I love you”? Samantha has an ex-boyfriend/landlord whose drug problem was the only thing that kept her from marrying him and an unfulfilling job at a video store.

Nathan is by all measures a wonderful teacher and supportive husband. It doesn’t erase the question from your mind as you read, though: is he impervious to manipulative Melody’s advances?

With so many threads to untangle, this is both a quick  and riveting read. Characters have depth. The dialogue is natural. I read this on a plane and hardly heard the soda cart roll by; I was lost in a classroom, a video-rental store or Melody’s scheming mind, as she persuaded a classmate to help her devastate Nathan’s marriage and his professional reputation.

Uncork a bottle of 2000 Forest Glen Shiraz – smooth, chocolate-cherry flavor to contrast this bumpy ride.

♥  Chardonnay