Finders Keepers

Fern Michaels, Author Kensington Publishing Corporation $24 (396p) ISBN 978-1-57566-323-4
Michaels (The Vegas Trilogy) packs her pages with the iconography of the rich and miserable. Empty Georgia manses, loveless Texas ranches, deeds to Greek Islands and death-by-sports-car in France all help form the backdrop for the Jessie Roland saga. Adorable toddler Hannah Larson, only child of poor but decent Grace and Ben, is sitting in her stroller outside a Tennessee gas station when baby-starved Thea and Barnes Roland pull in for a cream soda. Thea snatches the child, Barnes puts pedal to metal and Hannah becomes ""adopted"" Jessie, doomed to a life of smothering love and material overabundance in Charleston, S.C., while her birth parents suffer and hope. On her way to NYU (instead of her parents' pick, Georgia Tech) Jessie detours through Washington and talks herself into a job as secretary to powerful Texas Senator Angus Kingsley, who has an icy wife, Alexis; a dying mistress, Irene; and a gorgeous son, Tanner. Jessie, of course, marries Tanner, and the trouble really begins. Long on episode, short on motivation, the novel offers scant payoff even in scenes that ought to tug the heartstrings, such as Jessie's reunion with her real parents. (A fine exception is the detailed, layered scene in which Mrs. Kingsley trashes the Other Woman's apartment.) The most vivid character in the book is Jelly, the yellow-haired dog who was guarding little Hannah and nearly died trying to track her. Not surprisingly, the funny bonus story at the end of the book (""A Summer Surprise"") concerns a feisty woman vet who goes easier on her 11 pets than she does on her man. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
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Hardcover - 547 pages - 978-1-56895-693-0
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