Steel continues her downhill slide with this fatuous story about a nice Jewish boy who finally finds a good girl to take care of him--and then she dies. Bernie Fine is a top exec at Wolff's department store in New York City who has been taken advantage of for far too long by aggressively independent modern women who don't share his dream of domestic tranquility, and who in any event are probably tired of hearing him say things like ""I know a fun place not far from here, if you don't mind a bit of a mixed crowd,"" and ""L'Etoile at six?"" But when Bernie moves to San Francisco to run the Wolff's out there, he meets the girl of his dreams, perky blonde teacher Elizabeth O'Reilly, who comes complete with readymade daughter (sweet little Jane) from a previous marriage. They tie the knot and Bernie's happiness is complete. . .until Liz dies a lingering, tear-jerking, year-and-a-half-long death from bone cancer. Bernie's still reeling from the shock when up steps Liz's craven ex-husband, Chandler Scott, who kidnaps Jane and holds her in Mexico for ransom, forcing Bernie to rescue her, with the aid of a private eye. Undeterred, Scott applies for legal custody--and actually has it granted by a doltish family court judge. But on the very day he's to pick up Jane, he's shot down trying to hold up a local bank. There's the sound of hands being briskly wiped together, and then Steel forges ahead: Bernie moves to the Napa Valley, marries Dr. Megan Jones (independent, but warm, and a pediatrician to boot), and opens up a nice little boutique called Fine Things. Steel is now averaging about two novels a year, and the crude banalities of her prose more than show the strain. With the added anemia of plot here, fans still recovering from last year's also dismal Wanderlust may at last find themselves turning toward greener pastures.