cover image Private Pleasures

Private Pleasures

JoAnn Ross. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07762-4

The struggles of a driven, appealing heroine shape this readable but formulaic novel. When young Cassie McBride begins working for the powerful Gallagher family, she hopes for a path away from her alcoholic mother and their poverty in Gallagher City, Okla. Miss Lillian Gallagher takes Cassie under her wing, teaching her about the art world and bringing her to auctions in Manhattan. But Cassie falls in love with the black sheep of the family, Roarke, and becomes pregnant with his baby. Thrown out of Gallagher City, Cassie escapes to New York, where she is rescued by Nina Grace, head of a modeling agency. Cassie becomes Jade, a famous model, but, fearing the wrath of the Gallagher clan, manages to hide her deaf daughter, Amy, from the world. Circumstances conspire to keep her and Roarke apart for 10 years, by which point she is a grieving widow and the wealthy owner of a San Francisco auction house specializing in Asian art. Despite an often predictable narrative, murky logic and a didactic approach to its art subplots, Ross's ( Secret Sins ) latest entertains, and her heroine invites the reader's empathy. (May)