August 19, 2002 12:00 PM

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Isabel Favor is a Dr. Laura-like self-help guru whose boyfriend has dumped her and whose accountant has cheated her. In Tuscany to regroup, she meets Ren Gage, a studly American movie star. Isabel and Ren wind up spending their time either irritating each other or fornicating: “He felt a primitive urge to take her right in the vineyard…. To plunge into her the way one of his Medici ancestors might have taken a willing peasant woman.” Highbrow this ain’t, but what really rankles is that like a great-looking but lousy lover, it promises more than it delivers. (Morrow, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Short of breath

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