cover image Secret Sins

Secret Sins

JoAnn Ross. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (420pp) ISBN 978-0-312-04145-8

This first hardcover novel by a veteran Harlequin romance writer is virtually indistinguishable from her paperback romances; its melodramatic writing style is appropriate to the Hollywood setting, in which a perfect hero and heroine lead glamorous lives. Leigh Baron, heir to the legendary Baron Studios, has always been her father Joshua's ``princess.'' Her younger sister's jealousy and Joshua's overwhelming control of her personal and professional life force her to compromise her relationship with Matthew St. James, sexy film star and aspiring screenwriter. Ross elaborately and slowly sets the scene for the predictably neat, slam-bang ending, in which an incestuous relationship is revealed and resolved, and the sisters' rage is played out. Random passages of 1970s social and political history are awkward and superfluous, and have little effect on plot development. Since the behavior of the stereotypical characters is analyzed through heavy-handed psychological explanation, this light novel is unsatisfactory even as an escapist read. (June)