cover image A Ruling Passion

A Ruling Passion

Judith Michael. Poseidon Press, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64891-6

This plodding riches-to-rags and rags-to-riches tale is likely to disappoint fans of Michael's glittering bestseller Inheritance . Privileged and beautiful Valerie Sterling arrives at Stanford, and ignores fellow student Sybille, daughter of her mother's dressmaker, to dabble in acting and dally with Nick, an impoverished student who loves her. Two bad marriages later, Valerie loses a cheating husband and a fortune in a mysterious plane crash, but finds her courage. Sybille, meantime, marries and divorces Nick, then scrambles to the top of the heap in network news. Her envy and hatred of Valerie snowball when Valerie becomes an investigative reporter at the cable network Nick owns and digs up dirt on a televangelist show Sybille has launched. A one-dimensional cast brings little sparkle to the predictable plot. Only in the final quarter is there excitement enough to carry the heavily padded prose to a spirited conclusion. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections. (Jan.)