From Publishers Weekly
Pity the 21st-century househusband. Although former weatherman Lance Ramsay enjoys staying at home in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas, his 10-year-old daughter Belle's classmates consider him a loser, and his wife, Darlene, is so busy opening a new "Darlene's Diner," the franchise she started eight years ago in Barstow, Calif., that lovemaking has become perfunctory. Lance longs for another child and wishes his wife were more sensitive to Belle, but he finds plenty of distractions: having lots of tantric sex with Wren, the wife of Darlene's business partner, and dodging the amorous overtures of Wren's babysitter. Wren's sister, Robin, starts writing a book about househusbands, which gives a macho neighbor a chance to express his contempt for housebound men. Over the course of a few busy days leading up to the new diner's opening, in which everyone is sleeping with everyone, a brush fire threatens the region, which leads to the inevitable question: will the Ramsays' marriage go up in flames? US Weekly film critic Adams wittily skewers his shallow characters, resulting in a novel that's equal parts cleverness and tedium. (Jan.)
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When a novel starts with the Santa Ana winds about to bear down on a well-groomed California suburb, you know havoc will ensue. In the manner of Tom Perotta’s Little Children (2006), Playdate follows the complicated, about-to-explode life of a modern-day, stay-at-home, suburban dad. Nice-guy Lance has given up his career as a TV weatherman to help his high-powered wife, Darlene, start a new business. His days are consumed with caring for their daughter, Bella; trying to impregnate his reluctant wife; and having tantric sex with the wife of his wife’s business partner. The early introduction of tantric yoga (i.e., sex) puts the novel squarely in the satire category, but Adams is not completely content to let the story rest there. Earnest discussions of modern parenting, marriage, and gender roles fill almost every chapter as the impending storms threaten everything from Darlene’s new business to Bella’s birthday party. Unfortunately, these discussions sometimes come off as clunky exposition, in which the characters seem to be presenting talking points rather than having a conversation. Overall, though, the novel is an enjoyable, if slightly heavy-handed, romp through modern suburban life. --Marta Segal Block