In the beginning of Singled Out, forty-something horror writer Cass Leigh is at a crossroads in her life. She has “dated” a married man for over twenty years. Formerly her professor, Max seduced Cass when she was in college, and their affair has now spanned two decades. Cass has remained faithful over the long years to Max, with the hopes of Max living up to his promises to Cass of marriage and a family one day. However, Max is still married to his wife, and they currently are in California for an entire year while Max is on sabbatical. Cass is dismayed that she has received very few phone calls from Max while he is California, and she does not even have a telephone number to contact him. Cass is now forty-four years old,desperately wants to have a baby before her biological clock explodes, and she is too old to get pregnant. Being that Max is still married, is in another country and barely calls her, Cass starts to realize how grim her love life has become.
To make matters worse, Cass is estranged from her parents due to her “affair” with a married man, although Cass’ father regularly calls and leaves hilarious but disturbing messages on her answering machine that Cass is “the devil’s spawn.” Cass cannot relate to her sister, Jane, whom everyone else thinks is perfect, and the two sisters do not get along with each other, although Jane does not hesitate to darken Cass’ door under the guise of a sisterly visit – when she really wants a cover for her extramarital affair (never mind that Cass’ parents have permanently eschewed her for her own involvement in “extramarital activities"). Cass is on friendlier terms with her brothers, although the entire family is one eccentric lot.
As Cass concentrates on writing her next horror novel and tries to block out thoughts of Max and babymaking, two other men are posturing to find a place in Cass’ life. Jason is a long-term friend who sports a nasty temper and has developed an aggressive “crush” on Cass that can be likened to an irritating rash. While Cass cares for Jason, romance is not in their future. However, Cass’ antennae go up when she meets Dante, a newer resident in town. Dante has his share of skeletons in his closet, which Cass can relate to, not to mention the fact that Dante’s brooding, dark manner and pleasing appearance suit Cass’ tastes. When the village vicar holds the yearly charity “slave auction,” it is clear that hot bidding competition is underway between Max, Dante and Jason.
Trisha Ashley has written an entertaining and hilarious contemporary, chick-lit novel. Clearly, Ashley’s greatest strength as a writer is her wonderful sense of humor. Singled Out is a feel-good book that is laugh-out-loud funny as Cass tries to sort of her relationships with the men in her life, her family and to simply figure out exactly what Cass herself wants and needs. Singled Out is highly recommended to fans of chick lit.