cover image Old Sins

Old Sins

Penny Vincenzi, Penny Vinenzi. Crown Publishers, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-58191-9

In this distended romance featuring wealthy and fashionable characters living in the glamorous echelons of British society, six women intimate with the late Sir Julian Morrell--dashing captain of the cosmetics industry--gather for the reading of his will. Julian leaves hotels, horses and millions of pounds sterling, but daughter Roz and second wife, Phaedria, are shocked when each inherits 49% of the Morrell empire and the controlling 2% is left to a man no one has ever heard of: Miles Wilburn. The story backtracks to Julian's life, detailing his egotistical love affairs; the rise of his luxury boutique Circe, with its branches in London, in New York and on Rodeo Drive; and the rivalries of his women: his soignee mother, flighty first wife, frigid mistress, administrative whiz colleague, and jealous, insecure daughter Roz. Infatuated with Michael Browning, a sexy self-made mogul from Brooklyn, Roz rejects him to marry wimpy CJ Emerson, who will not challenge her domineering personality. Roz and Phaedria squabble to the end as they hunt for Julian's heir Miles, a blond and sweet California surfer whose eventual entanglement with the Morrell women provides unexpected ironies. While designer clothes and mix-and-match weddings/ adulteries are satisfyingly plentiful, the novel lacks a clearly sympathetic central character the reader can root for. Vincenzi is a London-based journalist. (Feb.)