Jay Jarvis, a rising star stockbroker from Texas, is on his way from heaven (Dallas, Texas) to hell (New York City) by way of purgatory (Greenville, South Carolina). On Saturday his Dallas-based girlfriend dumps him (via e-mail ouch!). On Sunday, following his real estate lady's advice about the Greenville singles scene, he goes to church. ("If you really want to meet people, try the Pentecostals. They're very outgoing.") Jarvis' new life in Greenville revolves around his profession of hawking stocks to an eccentric bunch of investors and his personal life, which includes the singles class at North Hills Presbyterian Church. While chasing after a pair of brown eyes that happen to belong to the missionary daughter of one of the church's elders, Jarvis finds himself on a weekend beach retreat with 50 other singles, all equally intent on catching a date or a mate. In a series of often-hilarious encounters, Jarvis meets Ransom, a surfer-dude who, although married, heads up the single men's group; Darcy, 5'11", blonde, beautiful, rich and in love with her lime-green convertible; Nancy and the Numericals, each with their books on dating and relationship in tow; and Steve, the token sane and normal guy. There is seafood, marshmallow roasts, spray-painted mosquitoes, ghost stories and a couple of near-death experiences that force Jarvis to re-examine his outlook on life in the here-and-now, and life in the hereafter.

Rookie novelist Ray Blackston captures the easy ebb and flow of Southern culture complete with all-day-singin' and dinner-on-the-grounds with grace and charm. He is equally adept at describing the loneliness of single life and finding humor in the absurdities of American dating rituals while weaving a healthy dose of religion and romance through both. Published by a Christian publishing house, Flabbergasted pokes fun at the Christian singles scene without making fun of Christianity and should have great crossover appeal. Blackston's light and breezy style makes Flabbergasted an ideal reading choice for a lazy summer night. Mike Parker is transplanted Texan who writes from his home in Nashville.

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