cover image Vegas Rich

Vegas Rich

Fern Michaels. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-057-8

Playing off her bestselling Texas series (Texas Sunrise, 1992, etc.), Michaels ventures into a Vegas trilogy that introduces the Thornton dynasty but also revives the Coleman family of the Texas books. The new saga begins in 1923, when Sallie Coleman, saloon singer and prostitute, inherits a fortune from an eccentric millionaire. Determined to acquire polish and breeding, Sallie moves into her benefactor's mansion and hires Philip Thornton, a handsome tutor whom she eventually marries. The birth of Sallie's first son, Ash, is quickly followed by the arrival of her second, Simon, with whom she forms a deep bond that eventually pits the boys against one another. Before then, however, Philip's distaste for his wife's vigorous sexuality has propelled Sallie into a love affair with attorney Devin Rollins that's destined to last for decades. After Philip suffers a massive stroke, Sallie assumes responsibility for his care, losing her dream of someday marrying her lover. Meanwhile, her sons wage a rivalry that culminates when Ash's wife falls in love with Simon. Further plot bumps will keep readers on their toes, including a severe accident and the building of a palatial gambling hall. Michaels isn't a master stylist (""You don't know me at all, Ash. I'm not that stupid, starry-eyed girl you married 30 years ago""), but her characters are well constructed, with appropriately dysfunctional flaws, and she lays on enough melodrama to please a J.R. Ewing or Alexis Carrington. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Aug.)