In Alisa Kwitney's Sex as a Second Language former actress Katherine Miner has vowed to give up sex forever after her painful divorce. She has enough on her plate without adding men to the mix her slimy ex has vacuumed her bank account in an attempt to force her to sell their Manhattan apartment; her eccentric young son is bribing people to be his friends; and her AWOL father, an ex-spy, has been leaving messages for her at a Turkish restaurant on the corner. As Katherine struggles and juggles to make sense of her upturned life, she teaches English as a second language at a downtown school, where she gets mixed up with a raft of intriguing characters, including the endearing misfit Mangus Grimmson, who has a big secret of his own. The engaging heroine, a well-drawn cast and the author's compassionate eye takes what might have been Chick Lit of the Week to a much more satisfying level. Barbara Samuel, who joins BookPage this month as romance columnist, writes novels from her native Colorado. Her latest book is Madame Mirabou's School of Love.

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