Monday, February 2, 2009

The Passions of Chelsea Kane by Barbara Delinsky ***

This is an older book (1992 - omigawd, who thought I would ever refer to something from 1992 as "older"???) and it shows in the story. I've liked the Delinsky books I've read, but this one was just a mediocre/average read, and it was long too!

The book opens with a birth scene - no one is identified, but the mother gives the child up for adoption, then we are left wondering what happened to the mother. Then we move on to the life of Chelsea Kane, a 37-year-old single woman, an architect in a small firm with her long-time best male friend and another woman (who played practically only a walk-on scene the whole book). She's also an adoptee (could it be...?) and her adopted mother has recently passed away. She had everything she ever wanted - wealth, success - except knowing who she really was and a good man.

She tried out the partner/best male friend for size, and even though they had been friends for life, and even though both sets of parents were pressuring them HARD to get married, they had never been ... intimate. So, what the heck, they did it and man, was Carl virile or what? Not only did he get her pregnant that one time, he was also doing another woman AND SHE GOT PREGNANT TOO. I say, hand the man a box of condoms! Sheesh!

As it turned out, he was more in love with Other Woman, and married her, so Chelsea never got around to telling him he was the father of her unborn child. Which I thought sucked.

Chelsea learns, somehow, that she has ties to a small town in New Hampshire, and since she's an architect who uses granite, she recognizes the name of the town as one they've bought granite from before. She up and invests in the granite company, against the better judgement of the current owner, and then buys a house and just moves to this town.

This is not one of those cozy, cute, warm and loving little towns like Robyn Carr's Virgin River or Grace Valley. No sirree, this town is in-bred to the max, and if you aren't from there - meaning, if your last name isn't a street name and you can't trace your genealogy back to the founding father - then you're an outsider, never to be trusted.

Also this town is stuck in the pre-women's lib era. No woman should be seen in exercise clothes. No women's knees, please. And there's some dirty little secrets - affairs, spousal abuse - and these are condoned because the surnames are those of the founding fathers. So you can just imagine the hardships Chelsea faced as major investor in the town's largest industry, and as unmarried pregnant newcomer to boot.

It has some romance-ish overtones. There's Judd, who supports his father who has Alzheimer's, even though he had college and plans to move away. There's Hunter - who's his father? And, hmmmmm, is he EXACTLY the same age as Chelsea?? Yeah, no spoilers here but it didn't take a magnifying glass to read between the lines on that issue. At least she and he were never attracted to each other, which would have been soooo squicky.

All the conflicts revolved around Chelsea and the decisions she made, so it falls pretty strongly into Women's Fiction for me. Single career woman, multiple partners (ok, just Carl and Judd), parental conflict, some slight suspense over some half-hearted attempts to scare Chelsea with ghosts and cut phone wires - yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. Not bad, just nothing special. 3 stars and I only get to add it to one challenge (A To Z Author) - no pirates, not by Lisa Kleypas, hasn't been in my TBR forever. Dang!

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