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    Review of QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE by Barbara Plum (see her website)

    Zebra Contemporary Romance, September 2005

    Television news anchor Kelsy Chandler is in love with her younger cop-fiance. Completely in love. But does that mean she has to give up her career, her chance to move into the big-time? Why is it that the woman is just supposed to go along with the man's goal of having two more children, all while living on a cop's salary. So, when she gets a chance to interview for a major promotion--in a market a thousand miles away from fiance Finn Bishop, Kelsy grabs it. What she doesn't do, can't make herself do no matter how she assures herself she will, is tell him about it.

    Instead of telling him the truth, Kelsy lies. She lies about what she did the night of the interview. She lies about why she's mad, how she broke her toe. And she lies to herself about why she's angry with Finn. Gradually the lies build up until they start to undermine the relationship.

    Fortunately for her, Finn is willing to put up with a lot. But even his patience is stretched when the California Highway Patrol gives him a heads-up that Kelsy just might have been involved in a hit and run accident coming home from the meeting she refuses to acknowledge ever happened. And as Kelsy knows perfectly well, Finn's sexy partner Olivia is just waiting to pick up the pieces if Kelsy drops him.

    Author Barbara Plum (see more reviews of novels by Plum) creates a believable situation where one lie leads to another, and where a relationship begins to crumble despite both people loving one another. Kelsy's concerns for career and family ring true--as do her concerns about her 37-year-old face and body. Plum fans will be pleased to see returning characters from her earlier book, PRINCE OF FROGS (see our review).

    Following the chick-lit pattern, Kelsy's conflict is with herself and her own growth rather than with Finn. One problem with this approach is that it lets the reader wonder exactly why Finn puts up with all of this grief--especially since he has Olivia waiting. QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE deals with real issues of trust and career. The story has plenty of funny moments and the relationship between Finn and Kelsy's son Jason adds texture to the novel.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/28/05

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