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Though Steel's ( Zoya ) novels showcase glamorous settings and turbulent romances, she writes convincingly about universal human emotions. Her latest book begins in California just after World War II. At age 14, Crystal Wyatt's radiant beauty and singing talent have already aroused hostility in her narrow-minded rural community. When Spencer Hill meets Crystal at her sister's wedding, an unlikely yet magnetic attraction binds them. Spencer, 13 years Crystal's senior, comes from a distinguished Eastern family that is forcing him to shoulder his deceased older brother's political aspirations. Though he yearns for Crystal, Spencer enters into a loveless but socially and professionally advantageous marriage with Elizabeth Barclay, daughter of a Supreme Court justice. Soon he implores her for a divorce, but Elizabeth vehemently insists on maintaining appearances. Meanwhile, Crystal has achieved stardom in Hollywood, but her brutally possessive manager threatens violent reprisal if she ever tries to see Spencer. In her portrayal of the reunion of this star-crossed couple, Steel displays the dramatic flourishes her fans savor. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club dual main selection. (Mar.)

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