From Alisa Kwitney, the acclaimed author of On the Couch and The Dominant Blonde, comes a wickedly funny new novel about adult education. A teacher of English as a second language, Katherine Miner is an expert in idiomatic phrases, subtle verbal cues, and unwritten cultural rules, but when it comes to the opposite sex, she's baffled.
Her girlfriends and her mother keep telling her that a woman who is about to turn forty needs to approach dating as a job, but Kat's decided to opt for early retirement. It's not that she hates men; she just doesn't trust them. After all, her soon-to-be ex-husband, Logan, has dropped all contact with their son, just as her own father did to her thirty years before.
While Kat prepares her students for the messy business of getting personal, she has no intention of getting herself tangled up in bedsheets and emotions. But Magnus Grimmson, the tall, good-looking, tongue-tied Icelander in the front row, doesn't appear to pose any threat. In fact, the man seems to need more help deciphering women than Kat does decoding men.
Then Kat receives a letter from her father that turns her life upside down. A former spy, Kat's father writes that he wants to get to know her. But her father's reappearance causes unexpected complications, and suddenly Kat finds herself questioning whom she can trust and discovering that she still has a lot to learn about men, friendship, and the kind of nonverbal communication they don't teach in school.
Darkly humorous, emotionally honest, and unabashedly sexy, Alisa Kwitney's novel affirms that forty isn't the end of the road -- sometimes, it's a new beginning.
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April 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Sex as a Second Language by Alisa Kwitney
"You're too young to retire from sex."
"But I'm too old to put up with all the bullshit that's involved," said Kat, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs. "Besides, the only men I find attractive are the ones I'd be insane to get involved with."
This comment received a mixed review from her friends -- a wry smile from Zandra, a look of concern from Marcy. Shit. Kat had learned the hard way that if she didn't present her depression in a sufficiently amusing manner, she'd wind up having to sit through a steady barrage of unsolicited advice. See a therapist. Take an evening course. Try the new generation of mood-altering drugs.
Yet as much as Kat longed to avoid being on the receiving end of any more prepackaged wisdom, she wasn't sure that she could sustain the requisite level of wit to satisfy her friends. Her feet were sore from walking ten blocks in three-and-a-half-inch heels and her head was beginning to throb from the drone of fifty other peoples' dinner conversations.
"But Kat," said Marcy, "the last time you were single was ten years ago. Are you saying your taste in men hasn't changed at all "
"Well, I no longer fantasize about Kevin Costner."
"No, seriously. Let's talk about what would attract you now." There was a look of missionary eagerness on her pretty, fine-boned features.
"Marcy, I beseech you, no in-depth analysis." Underneath the table, Kat surreptitiously slipped out of her stilettos. "How about a nice, safe topic, like the pros and cons of government-sponsored torture "
"Very funny." Zandra reached for her martini, jangling the silver bracelets on her arm. "Am I allowed to mention that there's a guy over at that table who's checking you out "
Kat tucked her bare feet under her chair. "You always think men are checking us out. He's probably looking for a waiter."
In contrast to Marcy, who seemed to have lost all her fashion sense, Zandra was improving with age. Ten years earlier, when they'd first become friends while watching their toddlers in the playground, Zandra had concealed her hair in bandannas and her body in baggy overalls. Then, sometime last fall, Zandra had stopped trying to restrain her abundant curls and started wearing fitted clothes that flattered her generous, hourglass figure. Not surprisingly, her transformation had coincided with the advent of a new man in her life. Well, not actually in her life, Kat thought, since the man only made sporadic guest appearances. But it was this very unpredictability that kept Zandra on constant French-bra-and-matching-panties alert.