The heroine of romance novelist Joyce's (The Finer Things) hardcover debut thinks she will live happily ever after, and instead unearths a nest of family secrets. Born into a working-class family, talented ballerina-turned-Broadway-dancer Jill Gallagher is ecstatic with her new fianc , aristocratic Brit Harold ""Hal"" Sheldon. But as they drive along a New York highway, he breaks off their engagement, saying he wants to return to his family in London. A devastated Jill turns to confront him--and wraps the car around a tree. Though Jill escapes unscathed, Hal dies in her arms, his last words, ""I love you... Kate."" Accompanying Hal's body to London, Jill obsesses: who is Kate? Was Hal leaving her for another woman? Hal's family blames Jill for the accident, except for his cousin Alex Preston, who's just a bit less prickly than the Sheldons. In Hal's old bedroom, Jill discovers a 1906 photo of two young women, Kate Gallagher and Anne Bensonhurst. Anne was Hal's grandmother, but Kate, a nouveau-riche American heiress (with Jill's last name), mysteriously disappeared the year she turned 18. As Jill abandons her life in New York in her single-minded hunt for Kate (whom she believes is her own ancestor), Alex becomes a provocateur, helper and saboteur on the case. The mystery deepens when Jill finds a decapitated cat on her porch and discovers that the brakes on her car are cut. Joyce's occasionally trite prose (""Hal is dead. Ghosts make poor lovers"") is easily ignored as she blends the stories of Jill and Kate, piecing together sexual intrigue, betrayals and century-old coverups that connect them. This genealogical thriller is a page turner that should please the readers of Joyce's previous 24 paperback romances (with seven million copies in print) and could perhaps prove her breakout novel. (Sept.) FYI: A rebate coupon will appear in the back of Perfect Secrets, to be released in August, and Joyce's Web site (www.brendajoyce.com) is already advertising her hardcover launch.
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-97659-0
Hardcover - 662 pages - 978-1-56895-838-5
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