Nobody ever said love was easy, but in Steel's latest romance, it's a perpetual uphill battle. From the moment beautiful, enormously poised 17-year-old Bostonian Kate Jamison meets handsome, much older Joe Allbright just before Pearl Harbor at a debutante party, she's desperately in love. Joe is smitten, too, but he is deeply committed to his career as a pilot—he's already an ace, associated with Lindbergh. The two try to pretend they can just be friends, but passion flares between them on the eve of war. When Joe returns from Europe, after years in a German prison camp, everyone expects they will marry, but Joe cannot commit and Kate moves on. She goes to New York, marries a college friend and has a son; meanwhile, Joe establishes an airplane-building empire. Still, they can't forget each other, and when they meet up again, even social mores can't keep them apart. Their roller-coaster relationship takes many more dips and turns before Kate finally realizes what she must do to make it work: "let him come and go, and appreciate him." Her surrender may gall some readers, but she and Joe are engaging characters, and Steel's expert plotting keeps the novel moving at a good pace. (Apr.)
Forecast:This eagle will sit in its aerie—atop the bestseller list.