Glamorous debutante rues the day she fell for a dashing aviator—but she can't stop loving him.
Kate Jamison is 17 when she first meets 29-year-old Joe Allbright in New York. World War II has engulfed Europe, and the US is on the verge of joining the Allies. Joe, an accomplished pilot, is about to leave for England to advise the RAF, but he's smitten by Kate's innocent beauty and attracted to her independence of spirit, which matches his own. They talk, agree to write, and part. Kate goes off to Radcliffe, Joe goes off to war. When he returns to Washington to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross from President Roosevelt, Joe and Kate consummate their passion in a hotel room before he puts her on a train and returns to Europe. Of course, she's pregnant and intends to keep the baby, even though she knows Joe isn't the marrying kind. He's shot down and missing in action for many months, during which Kate miscarries painfully. Joe's return after surviving torture at the hands of the Germans is not good news for Andy Scott, an upstanding young man in love with Kate. She resumes her affair with Joe, but when he still won't marry her, she weds Andy and bears his child. She takes up with Joe again after the baby is born and, honest to a fault, tells Andy, who won't give her a divorce. Kate gets pregnant again, and Andy lets her go after this one is born. Joe marries her at last, but he's busy with his aviation empire and hardly ever home. She miscarries twins after a car accident; Joe is sorry but, in Kate's view, not sorry enough. Will they divorce? Or reconcile? Will Kate ever come to terms with her life?
Perennial bestseller Steel (Journey, 2000, etc.) concentrates on the romance this time around, lending it a kind of quiet intensity that will appeal to her gazillion fans.