Fifteen Minutes of Shame by “experienced dating expert and virgin novelist” Lisa Daily is chick lit at its guilty pleasure finest. It’s the equivalent of enjoying People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue (usually the only issue I buy all year) in that it’s clearly style over substance, but it’s undeniably delicious. It won’t really stimulate your intellect but it will make you laugh and reminisce about your own dating exploits.
TV dating expert Darby Vaughn has just been dumped by her once seemingly perfect celebrity publicist husband Will Bradley, and his ex-wife, reality show actress Gigi Bissanti, who informs the media that she is getting back together with her husband and their two children so that they can be a family again. Darby is informed of this as she’s about to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on The Today Show for her latest book about how to snag a man called The Dreamgirl Academy (based on Lisa’s real life Dreamgirl Academy classes for women) and promptly vomits into a chrysanthemum arrangement on the coffee table before fainting on national television.
So much for Darby’s marriage, family, career, or reputation! Or is it? With the help of her weasel-like husband’s ex-assistant Kendall who takes over as Darby’s publicist, her “dreamgirl” best friends, and one of Sarasota, Florida’s finest divorce attorneys: the handsome, integrity-laden Holt Gregory, Darby slowly picks up the pieces of her shattered life.
Fifteen Minutes of Shame is well-written and exceedingly funny with dating tips from the Dreamgirl Academy or advice columns by Darby Vaughn published at the end of each chapter. However, I wanted to like Darby more than I did, and I found it just a bit of a stretch to believe that she would risk everything she had ever worked for to fight for custody of Will’s children, even though she had raised them for 3 years while Will and Gigi concentrated on their respective careers. It was interesting to consider the rights of step-parents in custody cases and I can understand how a step-parent can fall in love with someone else’s children, but what I couldn’t understand was how Darby managed to have such a successful career of her own, up until she discovered Will’s infidelity, and still found time to be the primary caregiver of his children.
Darby’s career never really falls apart as she begins taping a reality dating show within weeks of her public humiliation, and while you feel sorry for her in the beginning, it doesn’t take long for your empathy to dissipate because she just doesn’t really have to struggle much to pull her life together in the aftermath.
The development of her relationship with her attorney was predictable and the whole, rather clichéd story felt like a series of segments on Entertainment Tonight – which is okay, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Even though by the end of the book we see some growth in Darby’s emotional intelligence, she’s just not the kind of woman I could realistically cheer for. I didn’t think she deserved Holt Gregory (who really was written as the perfect man) and couldn’t understand why a man like him would fall for her because she didn’t seem to be deep enough for him. But then again, what do I know? I’m still single and am probably in dire need of Lisa Daily’s dating advice!
I just don’t play games of any kind when it comes to relationships with men and I don’t think that anyone else’s list of rules about the dos and don’ts of dating can apply to women in a universal fashion. But can they make you laugh? Hell, yes!! I mean, isn’t the fact that “in 80% of marriages, at least one partner will have an affair” a side-splitter?! Call me cynical; it’s okay. I confess.