Flirting With Pete
by: Barbara Delinsky
Cassandra (Casey) Ellis, 34, a single, successful psychotherapist, is the newest of this prolific writer's heroines. The novel opens with a memorial service for Dr. Cornelius Unger, a brilliant and reclusive psychologist who is also Casey's father. She never knew him personally, since she was the product of her mother's single encounter with Unger, and is shocked to learn that Dr. Unger has left her a $3 million townhouse on Boston's Beacon Hill, complete with a maid, Meg, and a gardener, Jordan. Casey has always felt hostile toward her famous, mysterious father, even though her mother never expressed any anger. She's uneasy at first about living in a luxurious house haunted by her father's presence, but soon finds its meticulously attended gardens a source of relief from professional stress and the emotional turmoil of caring for her mother, left comatose after a recent accident. Moreover, she is attracted to handsome, virile Jordan. While she's rooting through Dr. Unger's personal papers, she comes across the story of Jenny Clyde, a young woman in her 20s who was abused by her father for years before being rescued by a police officer. Casey becomes intrigued: is this incestuous relationship fiction or one of Dr. Unger's case histories? Why did her father leave it for her to find? Delinsky (The Woman Next Door, etc.) weaves Jenny's story through the novel, and meshes her and Casey's fates in a melodramatic climax. Both stories have some lapses in credibility and underdeveloped supporting characters (Meg is particularly weak), but the plot is more sophisticated and fast-moving than some of Delinsky's earlier work. It will satisfy her fans and may even win her some new readers.