cover image Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press, $16.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31691-0

To the many women in Beverly Hills playboy Jack Watson's life, ""Everything about him was irresistibly charming, even the way he left them."" Teetering on the cusp of 60, however, the former Hollywood actor and producer, now a retailer, has sworn off serious relationships for good. Amanda Robbins Kingston, whose daughter is married to Jack's son, can't stand Jack. But a year after Amanda's overprotective husband dies, Jack and Amanda meet again at a Christmas party and embark on a romance. As this thin tale of second-chance love proves abundantly, time neither dulls nor deepens the passions of Steel's characters: these grownups simply don't grow up. Amanda's self-recriminations about the match (and the self-righteous objections of her daughter and son-in-law) are tiresome, and there's not a surprise in sight, since Amanda's autumnal pregnancy feels as inevitable as it is contrived. Worse, Steel's ambivalence toward real-life aging will almost certainly alienate some readers. The lovers' bodies are both, improbably, ""splendid,"" and (right after Jack's throwaway comment that L.A.'s beautiful people ""make the ugly people move to some other state"") Steel fans in the homely 49 may not always agree that ""It was easy to see why he had so much success with women."" The happy ending is never in doubt, but the formula is starting to look tired (not to say ""old"") and a little sad. (July)