After four lighthearted novels under the Bantam banner, chick lit author Wendy Wax has moved on to a new publisher and a more mature cast of characters.
The "chicks" in The Accidental Bestseller, just out from Berkley Trade, are not young, single or looking for the perfect job. Kendall Aims, Mallory St. James, Tanya Mason and Faye Truett are mothers and grandmothers, veteran romance writers who, above all, have been true-blue friends since meeting at a Wordsmith Inc., conference 10 years ago. As the book begins, they have come together at a banquet where Kendall is expected to win one of the big awards.
But she doesn't, and that sets off a string of major disappointments for Kendall, including her longtime publisher not renewing her contract and her husband of 20-plus years asking for a divorce.
When Mallory, Tanya and Faye find her too depressed to finish the last contracted title for the company that recently dumped her, they offer to help her write it, using portions of their own lives. The seemingly harmless act ends up having serious consequences for each of them.
Along the way, The Accidental Bestseller provides a lot of insight into the book business, collected, no doubt, from Wax's own experiences in the trade. A subplot with an editor from hell and her kinder, gentler assistant is both entertaining and informative.
Interestingly for local readers, one member of the literary quartet, Tanya, works as a waiter at the Downhome Diner ($2 specials before 8 o'clock) in St. Petersburg. Wax herself attended Sunshine Elementary, Azalea Middle and Boca Ciega High schools and still has family here.
Roberta Whipple is the library administrator at the St. Pete Beach Library.