December 14, 1998 12:00 PM

Nine years ago, separated and sick of the singles scene, Susan Fox shelled out $1,200 over eight months for personal ads. Among the 30 guys she met, one had a paunch that made him look “nine months pregnant,” and another had bad breath and “started crowding my space. That was the worst.” But No. 31 was the charm. Since 1995, Fox has been happily wed to Rick Hill, 54, a computer consultant. Now she’s using her experience as the founder of Personals Work, a Boston ad-writing service for people hoping to sell themselves in the game of love. “I try to present people as they are,” says Fox, 46, a family therapist, “but with their best foot forward.”

Her clients, mostly women over 40, pay a minimum of $400 for her blurbs, which avoid such cutesy clichés as “Juliet seeks Romeo” in favor of such unique come-hitherisms as “gypsy trapped in corporate body” and “full of life but with a gentle edge.” Says Fox: “If you want an edge, you’ve got to sound unique and interesting.”

The same might be said of Fox, the daughter of a Chicago executive and a teacher, whose first marriage, to a management consultant, ended after nine years. She snared her current husband with an ad touting her green eyes, love of dogs and frequent-flyer miles (logged as a freelance reporter). When friends began asking her for help on their ads, “I said, ‘It’s time to start charging for this.’ ”

Appearing in such publications as New York and Harvard Magazine, Fox’s ads so far have matched up everyone from wilderness guides to corporate executives. And for those who don’t get off to such an idyllic start, Fox also provides “coaching” therapy for new couples. “My role isn’t just to help someone find a relationship,” she says. “I want to make sure it gets launched.”

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