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NEVER SAY STARK NAKED by Marjory Bassett


by Marjory Bassett

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-56649-246-7

Returning for her debut to a more genteel, innocent age—when a beautiful working girl could leave Kansas for Manhattan and find fulfillment—the 81-year-old Bassett finds the charms (and the liabilities) of that vintage romantic premise.

The circumstances of Phoebe Stanhope’s departure from Kansas are unusual: On New Year’s Eve, 1958, her husband and her best friend announce that they want out of their marriages in order to marry each other. Phoebe throws hubby out of the house into a snowstorm, where he promptly drives himself into a fatal accident. Suddenly a young widow, she deals first with her distraught mother-in-law, then quits her TV job to begin a new life in the East. Connections made on the train to New York allow her to land on her feet with a job as personal assistant to famous Selmabelle Flaunton, a well-connected impresario whose salon is the talk of the town. Those same connections bring Phoebe into romantic entanglements with a handsome pair of brothers, one a painter and the other a lawyer, both luminaries in Selmabelle’s firmament and supposedly out of Phoebe’s orbit. But when Selmabelle’s British business associate, 85-year-old Sir Chatham, also becomes enamored of her and insists that Phoebe accompany him on a national tour promoting the castles of England, she steps into the limelight herself. The shadow of her Kansas tragedy never fully leaves her, but somehow that dark past and her bright present merge to create more fulfillment than she could ever have imagined.

The fairy-tale ending and many romantic conventions will be hurdles for some readers, but the heroine’s fidelity to her roots gives her a compassion that seems unmistakably genuine.