After the death of her adoptive mother, thirty-six-year-old Chelsea Kane is consumed by the need to uncover her biological heritage. Taking a break from her successful architecture career, she arrives in the New Hampshire town where she was born, determined to learn the truth, her only clue a tarnished silver key. One of her first discoveries, however, is something quite unexpected: the irresistibly attractive Judd Street. Buoyed by love and resolution, the determined Chelsea slowly begins to uncover the dark mystery of her past. But as she inches closer to the truth, she realizes that someone is trying to stop her, first by scaring her, then by trying to harm her. The danger escalates until one terrifying night when all secrets are laid bare. With memorable characters and writing that will stir the hearts and minds of all readers, The Passions of Chelsea Kane is the kind of compelling narrative that has earned Barbara Delinsky an ever-widening readership.
The clues to the identity of the heroine in this contemporary romance can be obvious and heavy-handed, but the variety of characters Delinsky ( A Woman Betrayed) presents provides ample entertainment. Mystery surrounds the birth of Chelsea Kane. Adopted by the Kanes, she knows only that she was born in Norwich Notch, a small New Hampshire town. An architect, Chelsea gains her first uncertain foothold in Norwich Notch by buying into its largest business, a financially troubled granite company. Locals resent Chelsea's intrusive presence, but two who take to her are Hunter Love (in a friendly sort of way) and ``stunningly male'' Judd Streeter (passionately). Someone who obviously doesn't take to her, however, scares her with late-night telephone calls and torches her barn. Chelsea's efforts to earn a place in the community and in Judd's heart are endangered when she learns she is pregnant. Judd is not the father, and Notch residents disapprove of unwed mothers. In this small-town romance Delinsky refreshingly takes the opportunity to poke fun at social snobbery and moral hypocrisy. (Apr.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 30, 2004
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Excerpt from The Passions of Chelsea Kane by Barbara Delinsky
She fought a compelling urge to push. She didn't want the baby born yet. She wasn't ready to let it go, wanted to keep it with her longer, but her body wouldn't cooperate. It had taken charge and was relentless in its goal. From the onset of labor the evening before, the contractions had been strong, one more brand of punishment to add to what had already been. Now, though, they seized her even more cruelly, strangling her belly and stealing her breath. They forced the child in her womb steadily downward until she could no more have kept her trembling thighs from opening than she could have kicked away the girl reaching between them.
The room was dim, lit only by the glow of the woodstove and the fragile veil of dawn. In hallucinatory moments between pains, she imagined that he had decreed her baby born then, with no one awake to see or hear, no one to know. In the dark, the baby that had been a black mark on the fabric of Norwich Notch would be banished, the stain washed clean. With the sunrise, the town would be pure once again.
Another pain came, this one so cutting that she cried out. The sound echoed in the stillness, followed by another cry, then, when the vise around her belly began to ease, the frantic gasping for air. That sound, too, reverberated in the quiet, and with the return of reason, the irony of it hit her. A great blizzard should have been swirling madly around the small shack to mark the birth of the child that had created such a stir -- and if not a blizzard, she decided on the edge of hysteria, certainly the kind of torrential rain that often hit New Hampshire at the tail end of March. Mud would have made the roads impassable. No one could have reached her. She might have kept her baby a little longer.
But there was no gusting wind or swirling snow. There was no battering rain, no mud. The dawn was silent, mocking her with its utter tranquillity.
Her stomach knotted hard. Unbearable pain circled her middle in coils that tightened with each turn. She wanted a hand to hold for the comfort of knowing someone cared, but there was no hand, no caring soul. So she clutched fistfuls of the wrinkled sheet and gritted her teeth against a bubbling scream.
"Push," came the soft voice from between her legs. It belonged to the midwife's sixteen-year-old daughter, who had been relegated the task of delivering the town's least wanted child. In her innocence her voice was gentle, even excited, as she urged, "Push.... There. I see a head. Push more."
She tried not to. To expel her baby was to expel the only life she was ever to create, and once gone from her body the child would be lost to her. She wondered if it knew that. She wondered if it wanted that, it seemed so determined to be born. She couldn't blame it, she supposed. She had nothing to offer but love, and that wasn't nearly enough to keep it clothed and fed. So for the child's sake she was giving it up. She had agreed to the decision, but she hated it, hated it.
The pain that hit her next drove all thought from mind but the one that she was surely dying. Her whitened fingers twisted the worn sheet, while the rest of her body contorted in agony. For an instant, when the pain subsided, she was disappointed to find that she remained, trembling and sweaty and hurting all over. The disappointment was still strong in her when she was seized again. Instinctively she bore down.