cover image Acts of Love

Acts of Love

Judith Michael. Crown Publishing Group, $24 (376pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70324-3

The glamorous world of the theater is the setting of this emotional if long-winded romance from the pseudonymous Michael. Broadway director Luke Cameron has material success but an empty heart--until he finds a box of letters left behind by his deceased aunt, a famous stage actress. Written to his aunt by her protegee Jessica Fontaine, a talented actress who disappeared from the spotlight after she was injured in a train accident, the letters are filled with the passion and verve Luke has sought in his own life. Falling in love with Jessica through her words, Luke decides to find her, even though she has lived in seclusion for two decades, her beauty and spirit marred. When he does confront her on her island retreat in Puget Sound, she is dumpy and clumsy, seeming older than her 45 years. Yet when circumstances throw them together, Jessica blossoms and begins to regain her old magnetism. The two spend a delicious week together, but Jessica refuses a life with Luke until she can make a comeback on her own--an outcome that is never in doubt. With eight bestsellers behind her, Michael (A Tangled Web, etc.) knows how to make her intriguing premise work, seamlessly interweaving letters into a story that shuttles easily between Luke's and Jessica's viewpoints. Michael offers a convincing glimpse into the process of a theatrical production while providing the requisite globe-spanning settings, including Italy, New York and Sydney, Australia. Though Luke's perfection and Jessica's stubborn insistence on distance may make some readers impatient, loyal Michael fans are bound to applaud. Major ad/promo; simultaneous Random House large print edition (0-679-77418-1). (Mar.) FYI: Judith Michaels is the pen name of the husband-and-wife writing team of Judith Barnard and Michael Fain.