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In Devereaux-Nelson's debut novel, five hapless men in contemporary Michigan struggle to overcome the whirlwind of devastation left in manipulative femme fatale Violet Benjamin's wake. When Violet suddenly abandons husband #5, Marshall, his jealous suspicions lead him to another of Violet's exes, Costa. Bonding over their shared marital battle scars, they go on to befriend Violet's other ex-husbands, including unstable Brian, dutiful Tim, and lovesick Owen. The men, united by their common fixation, together begin to find a way of coping with life after Violet. Meanwhile, their beautiful, narcissistic, therapy-loving ex-wife has set her sights on a new target: Jake, the one man who never fell for her wiles. Learning this, the men decide to find Jake and warn him of Violet's sinister power before it's too late. A diffuse structure and stereotypical characters prevents the novel from building up much suspense before reaching its forgettable climax. Violet herself remains a frustrating cipher, leaving the reader wondering why her ex-husbands are still obsessed with her. As a tale of romantic loss, though, the novel is more successful, offering a moving portrait of the neurotic fixations of unhappy lovers and the bonds they forge to overcome grief. (Dec.)
Violet’s sixth husband, Marshall, decides she left him for husband number two. When Marshall shows up swinging, Costa recognizes the signs and becomes Marshall’s post-Violet mentor. They soon gather Violet’s other exes into a mild, supportive fraternity, including Brian, who succumbed to his bipolar disorder when Violet left and covered his house in hubcaps; Tim, a computer programmer who moved back home to take care of his aging parents; and Owen, a veterinarian who is secretly still in touch with his ex. The men are haunted by Violet’s constant comparisons to Dead Winston, husband number one, and Jake, her high-school crush. When the exes find out Violet is planning to track Jake down, they take a road trip to northern Michigan to see for themselves what they couldn’t live up to. Snippets of Violet’s therapy hint at a problem more serious than self-involvement, and even though the tone stays light, Violet is more villain than victim. Readers of chick lit with a high tolerance for the gender dichotomy will be drawn to this twist on the post-breakup bonding story. --Susan MaguireSee all Editorial Reviews