cover image IMPOSSIBLE


Danielle Steel, . . Delacorte, $27 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33826-4

Sasha de Suvery Boardman, the 48-year-old heroine of Steel's latest romance, knew she had it all—perfect marriage, two terrific grown kids, prestigious art galleries in Paris and New York, three luxury homes—until her husband's fatal heart attack. Now brokenhearted, but still beautiful and chic, she buries herself in her gallery work, until son Xavier introduces her to bad-boy painter Liam Allison, a gorgeous, "wacky" 39-year-old who instantly "[brings] out the mother in her." So she offers him a gallery contract, thus igniting a "torrid affair" punctuated by endless arguments about their nine-year age difference, his severe allergy to all forms of authority and their incompatible "lifestyles and appearances" (including his strong aversion to wearing socks). Despite Steel's repeated assurances that Liam is actually "innocent and likable," his petulance and impulsiveness are seriously off-putting, and the tortured romance has an icky, near-incestuous quality that may make some readers cringe. Others may just be bored by the sketchy, meandering plot, the skimpy characterizations and the hyperbolic, often stunningly repetitious style ("He was just a young man who liked to have fun and still acted like a boy at times, full of mischief and fun"). Even hardcore Steel addicts may not make it all the way through this one, her 63rd. (Mar. 1)