Monday, February 16, 2009

Romance Novel or Murder Mystery?

Re: Cha Cha Cha by Jane Heller

I’ve been reading this book and I can’t decide if it’s a romance novel with a murder tossed in for good measure, or a mystery story with a little bit of romance.

The plot revolves around Alison Waxman Koff. At the start of the book she is married and lives in a posh 18-room 7,200 square foot Connecticut mansion her husband suggests they call “Maplebark Manor” since according to him, all estates have names. Shortly into the first couple of chapters, we learn that Alison’s husband wants a divorce so he can return to his ex-wife.

Now Alison becomes the ex-wife and for income she has to rely on her feature writing for the local paper, ‘The Layton Community Times’. The paper is owned by former actor and Senator Alistair P. Downs.

However Alison’s salary doesn’t pay the bills to support Maplebark Manor and she reluctantly sells her fancy fur coats while scouring the want ads and contacting editors of several prominent New York magazines and newspapers. But the only success she has comes in applying for a job as a housekeeper. She figures, what the heck, she can clean! The pay is $25 per hour, and it is for the famous author Melanie Moloney.

Ms. Moloney, as she insists Alison call her, has written several unauthorized biographies of Hollywood celebrities and is currently writing one about Alison’s boss, Senator Alistair P. Downs. Alison hopes she and Ms. Moloney can collaborate on the book. But alas Alison’s hopes are dashed as Ms. Moloney treats Alison like the dirt Alison is supposed to clean up.