Too Damn Rich

Judith Gould, Author Dutton Books $24.95 (560p) ISBN 978-0-525-93665-7

Although set in locales (Park Avenue, royal castles, the Caribbean island of Mustique) that are nothing but classy, Gould's (Forever; Sins) newest succumbs to being merely trashy. Kenzie Turner is an assistant in the Old Masters Department of Burghley's, a Sotheby's-style auction house in Manhattan. Certain she will be chosen the new head of the department, Kenzie is horrified to learn that Bambi Parker has secured the job by virtue of hours of libidinous overtime in the limo of Burghley's new owner, Robert A. Goldsmith--a corpulent billionaire who made his fortune in discount department stores. Complicating Kenzie's life further are her multiorgasmic affairs with both old flame Charley Ferraro, a detective with the city's art theft squad, and Charley's temporary partner, Nordic-god Interpol detective Hans Hockert. But Kenzie's problems pale beside those of young and beautiful Countess Zandra von Hohenburg-Willemlohe and handsome Prince Karl-Heinz von und zu Engelwiesen. Zandra has taken refuge at Burghley's after fleeing London one step ahead of the goons searching for her deadbeat gambler brother. Prince Karl-Heinz has just turned 40; unless he marries and sires a son before his ailing father dies, the family billions will pass to his nephew. Punctuating the romantic fireworks are cryptic interludes in which mysterious men clad in black plot disaster for Burghley's. Even a surprising and neatly paced conclusion can't redeem this cliched, oversexed saga of the too damn rich and famous. (Aug.)