Frensic and Futtle is a small and successful literary agency. But following a successful court case by a woman who claimed to have been libeled by one of their authors, the agency rapidly loses business.
One day, a manuscript for a book called Pause O Men for the Virgin arrives at the agency, together with a note from the author's solicitor, saying that the author wishes to remain anonymous and that the agency has carte blanche on how it deals with the book. The book turns out to deal with the love affair between an 80-year old woman and a 17-year old youth.
The populist American publisher Hutchmeyer agrees to sign a deal to publish the book in the United States for $2 million, providing the author carries out a promotional tour of the country. Sonia and Frensic decide to use aspiring but unpublished author Peter Piper to stand in for the anonymous author. But when Piper receives a proof copy of Pause from the publisher by mistake, it takes a certain amount of persuasion and arm-twisting from Sonia Futtle to convince Piper to travel to America.