cover image FLESH TONES


M. J. Rose, Author . Ballantine $21.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-345-4

Emotionally numb after her passion for an artist ends in tragedy, Genny Haviland faces a New York jury in this sensuous courtroom melodrama combining art world intrigue with romantic obsession. Precocious, pampered 17-year-old Genny fell for artist Slade Gabriel, more than twice her age, when he walked into her father's Madison Avenue art gallery, but as soon as he found out who she was, Gabriel ended their affair. Two decades later, an accident brings them together again, each successful in a career but not in marriage, each still longing for the other. This time the affair ends with Slade's death and grieving Genny is tried for his murder. As the story switches back and forth between the courtroom and Genny's memories, erotic passages alternate with psychological observations of Genny's doting father, distant mother and gifted, moody lover, as Genny decides whether to take the stand on her own behalf. Romance fans will savor the descriptions of sexual desire, the emotion-laden internal monologues and the web of family relationships, while followers of the art market will recognize situations resembling the scandals surrounding the Rothko estate, de Kooning's health and price-fixing among reputable art dealers. In the end, it is not the art but the intensity of erotic discovery that drives this novel, overwhelming the comparatively tame mystery as Rose (In Fidelity; Lip Service; etc.) explores the incongruities and pitfalls of family and romantic relationships in this story of sexual discovery. (July)