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Ms. Taken Identity

by Dan Begley

     

Told from a manís point of view, Ms. Taken Identity tells the story of Mitch Samuel, a well-educated Ph.D. candidate who has a complete lack of emotional intelligence. A selfish, stubborn, snobbish, self-absorbed jerk, Mitch builds barriers between himself and his girlfriends, his brother, his father, his mother, his best friend, and the students he teaches. He lies, steals, manipulates, and misrepresents himself. Despite his inability to connect with anyone on more than a superficial level, Mitch wonders why his relationships donít work and why the characters in his first epic novel donít inspire publishers to offer him a book contract.

The story is set in motion when his long-time, live-in girlfriend dumps him for forgetting to pick her up at the airport—on an exceptionally rainy day. Through a series of unlikely circumstances and coincidences, Mitch meets the famous chick-lit novelist, Katharine Longwell, who helps him jumpstart his writing career, secures him a lucrative book deal and television guest spots, wines and dines him with her unlimited funds, and soothes his wounded ego through seductive overtures.

As Mitch researches the chick-lit novel he intends to write (written under a pen name), he joins a ballroom dance class (also under an assumed name) in an attempt to mingle with non-academics who talk and act like the women in his planned novel. During these dance lessons with the common folk, Mitch finds himself falling in love with a cute hairstylist named Marie, who happens to be his best friendís sister. Although Marie finds Mitchís adopted persona quite appealing, if she knew about his condescending views of those outside the world of academia and why he was really there at the dance class, itís highly doubtful that she would have ever gotten involved with him.

The strengths of Ms. Taken Identity come from first-time novelist Dan Begleyís engaging writing style that includes a flowing first-person narration, an abundance of humor, and frequent pop culture references. The weaknesses come from the central characters. Few women would tolerate Mitchís callous attitude and anti-social behavior, yet in this book he flits from one relationship to another—usually with the women chasing after him, including the nearly angelic Marie. Heís an unlikely romantic hero for a chick-lit novel, despite his baby steps toward growth and change. Similarly, itís difficult to believe that a woman with Katharineís wealth, power, and good looks would risk her reputation by helping out a guy like Mitch (or believe his convoluted story about an overly shy female cousin who actually wrote the novel).

The Book

5 Spot / Hachette Book Group
June 2009
Paperback
978-0-446-50618-2
Fiction / Chick Lit
More at Amazon.com
Excerpt
NOTE: Holiday read: Thanksgiving and Christmas mentioned
Profanity, Mild Sexuality, Mild Violence

The Reviewer

Leslie Halpern
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Leslie Halpern is the author of Reel Romance: The Lovers' Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies, Dreams on Film, A Writer's Guide to Fearless Interviews, and the co-author of Connections: A Collection of Poems. Coming Soon: Passionate About Their Work: Celebrities, Artists, and Experts Discuss Creativity.
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