cover image Belinda


Anne Rice, Anne Rampling. Arbor House Publishing, $17.95 (439pp) ISBN 978-0-87795-826-0

Under the pseudonym of Rampling, Anne Rice (The Vampire Lestat wrote the erotic confection Exit to Eden ; this novel, too, has a highly sensual aura. Jeremy Walker, a middle-aged children's book author renowned for his beautiful, old-fashioned illustrations, is captivated by a 16-year-old woman-child who tells him nothing of her past when she moves into his San Francisco home. Obsessed by Belinda's smoky sexuality, the paintings in which he celebrates her beauty are an erotic and sometimes violent extension of Jeremy's books. When the artist discovers that his mysterious lover is the missing daughter of a famed film star, a scandalous story of anger and betrayal uncoils, and Belinda abruptly disappears. To bring her back, Jeremy makes his portraits public, unleashing a media circus and police investigation that conspire to separate them forever. The concluding chapters are badly marred by a heavy dose of saccharine, but its rivetingly seductive, gothic overtones lend a fine, eerie flavor to scenes stretching from brash Hollywood deals to the darkness of an enshrined house in New Orleans. Major ad/promo. (October 17)