Jackson Power. A name like the man himself: aggressive, ambitious, bullish. The prodigal son, heir to millions, built his own Manhattan real estate empire and revels in seeing his moniker -- Power! -- on glittering skyscrapers around the city that never sleeps. Beneath his desk in the towering Power headquarters, Jacks has a stack of newspapers and photographs of himself, shaking hands with the most famous men and women of his generation. Here's a man who's always loved to see his name in ink. Until now.
Cynthia Hunsaker Power. She is the epitome of elegance and society. The perfect foil for a man of Jacks's stature -- his first and only wife, he'd proudly tell any of his Master of the Universe (read: Gargoyle) friends. The former prima ballerina arrived in New York at eighteen, off the bus from Missouri, brimming with talent, beauty, and drive. She met a struggling painter, fell in love, and only later learned she'd won the Power lottery. Now she sits on the New York Ballet Theater board, effortlessly outdoing herself with one gala after another. But the press coverage of the Power silver anniversary party at the Waldorf takes the cake.
Jacks Power appears twice in the New York Post the next morning -- once gallantly dancing with his wife of twenty-five years, Cynthia; and once hand in hand with Lara Sizemore, morning television star, exiting her Upper West Side apartment building that very same night.
To Jackson Power, Lara is ever ything his wife Cynthia is not -- wild, voluptuous, mysterious, and selfsustaining. A new passion has swept Jacks off his well-shod feet -- and she is Lara Sizemore. He is ready for the divorce, ready to marry his mistress, America's Sweetheart. But Cynthia isn't ready to be swept out of the picture quite so easily.
Let the Divorce Games begin.
Whether they're changing the locks on each other in their Park Avenue triplex or sabotaging each other's dinner parties, it's The People's Billionaire vs. The Ballerina, in a split-up that will trump the most scandalous divorces known to polite New York society. Cynthia's got their twenty-five-year-old artist daughter, Vivienne, in her camp; Jacks has the young bartending playwright Adrian, whom he intends to pay to seduce Cynthia into an easy split. But Cynthia might have a few tricks up her well-tailored Chanel sleeve, and she -- like Jacks -- is prepared to use every weapon in her divorce arsenal to win the game. It's a battle of wits, of charm, of two of the biggest egos -- and personalities and bank accounts -- in Manhattan, and neither side will go down without a fight.
From beloved and best selling author Gigi Levangie Grazer comes a sexy, sassy, smart new novel, Queen Takes King.
It's War of the Roses fought by The Real Housewives of New York in this hilarious if overlong morality tale of young love, old fools and happy endings. After 25 years of marriage-most of it squandered on unspoken disappointment, stifled grief and wasted affection-ex-ballerina Cynthia Power and real estate tycoon hubby Jackson are headed for divorce. At the same time, Jackson's latest condo project is teetering and Carolyn's ballet board is in turmoil. Though lesbian daughter Vivienne counsels Cynthia to "think three moves ahead," Jackson, torn between his ambitious and reckless lover and imperious father, is staying in the game by sheer grit. In the end, these volatile emotional wrecks learn to rely on their hearts. Grazer (The Starter Wife) has Hollywood cred and brings a rollicking romantic-comedy tempo to her story of busting up and moving on, even if the cast is strictly celluloid: lovely to look at and unlike anyone walking this planet. (June)
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Simon & Schuster
June 14, 2009
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Excerpt from Queen Takes King by Gigi Levangie Grazer
CYNTHIA HUNSAKER Power stood shivering in her kitchen, a silk robe wrapped around her sylphlike body, and wondered whom she'd have to fuck or fire to get a diet Red Bull. Her doe eyes, accentuated by last night's false eyelashes, blinked at the challenge. She flicked her traight black ponytail faded only slightly by age, and smirked. Cynthia's delicate mouth was stained, her beloved Chanel Red No. 5 intensifying her pale skin. Reality check, Cynthia, she thought, when was the last time you did either?
The chef wouldn't arrive until daybreak, the French butler was still asleep, and the housekeepers and drivers and trainers hadn't even tasted their first sip of coffee before hopping the train into Manhattan. Cynthia was alone in the kitchen, something she hadn't been since Vivienne was a baby. Had it really been almost twenty-five years?
She'd been jostled awake by a recurring dream.
"Snakes," Cynthia said out loud. "Even my nightmares are clich�s." She imagined her therapist Dr. Gold's reaction: "Don't waste my time, bubule. I'm a very busy man. I've got a full day of undersexed neurotics."
Now. Find that Red Bull. The industrial-size refrigerator revealed nothing. There were no other clues. Her designer had prohibited appliances, declaring them aesthetically offensive. The kitchen looked like a morgue.
Open, close, open, open, slam, drawers upon drawers upon cabinets. No luck. Cynthia was sweating in her Hanros when she finally discovered a black machine with sleek lines; could this be a coffeemaker? It bore no resemblance to the dented aluminum percolator her mother had used back in Aurora, Missouri. She squinted, trying to make sense of the buttons and the timers and the vents. Cynthia refused to acknowledge the slow submerging of the printed word into a gray blur. Reading glasses? Forget it. Next, people would be whispering: "She was a real beauty in her twenties."
Even if Cynthia could bring Darth Vader to life, where was the coffee? She set the machine down.
And where were her Gitanes?
Caffeine and cigarettes, the breakfast of champions for ballerinas, even long-retired ones. What started out decades ago as a six-packa-day Diet Coke habit had morphed into almost a case a day of highoctane diet Red Bull as her metabolism slowed. Cynthia was Sleeping Beauty without her fix. And to make matters worse, Esme, her personal maid, had hidden the cigs from her, instructed to ration five a day -- 7:30, 10:30, 2:30, 6:30, 10:30 -- unless otherwise notified in times of crisis. Cynthia knew better than to bother anyone about her blessed unfiltereds at this hour.
Cynthia looked past the custom Bonnet stove she'd never used to the white Carrara marble countertop she'd used once, for a photo spread. The Town & Country layout had been featured several bright springs ago -- Cynthia sitting sideways on the cold marble, her black mane freshly blown out by John Barrett, her red mouth open in silent laughter (behold the bliss of the wealthy Upper East Side wife, the inside joke of the Park Avenue Princess). She could see her dancer's torso curved backward, one long leg emerging from the slit in her Armani, ending days later in the arch of her bare foot. The caption: "Cynthia Power, patroness of the New York Ballet Theater, feels as at home in her Baron Waxfield-designed kitchen as onstage in a pas de deux."
Cynthia the Perfectionist was known for being meticulous in her performances, onstage and off. Case in point: last night's pas de deux t the Waldorf. Two years to plan her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary party and it was over in four hours. But what a four hours: five hundred of their closest and dearest, including the mayor, the governor, Barbara, Julian, Peter, Anna, Donald, the De Niros, Marc, Harvey, Rupert, Charlie, Woody, Diane, Liz, Nieporent, and the Schwarzmans, feigned obliviousness to the paparazzi penned in on the north side of Fifty-first Street. Once inside, they were ushered into a ballroom, completely overhauled in homage to Versailles's Hall of Mirrors. Gargantuan reflective panes had been installed on one side; faux "windows" had been painted on the facing wall to replicate the intricate gardens. There were twinkling chandeliers and a ceiling painstakingly repainted as per the Sun King's original specifications. There was consensus among the people who mattered: New York hadn't seen a party like this since the Steinberg-Tisch wedding/merger at the Met back in the eighties.
If only her husband, Jackson Xavier Power, had seen fit to show up on time.
"Now what?" she asked herself. She had a full two hours before her Pilates instructor rang, but without a schedule and without her Red Bull, she wasn't sure exactly what to do. She could boot up her social calendar for the upcoming fall season or go through last season's closet and decide which dresses to donate to charity.
On a whim, she decided to go out and get the newspapers. Excited about getting the papers -- this was her life. Cynthia didn't fear running into anyone in the elevators at 740 -- they were perpetually mpty. Still, she decided to take the stairs. The eighteen-room apartment (six bedrooms, eight baths) commanded the penthouse of the eventeen-story limestone building, a trek, but Cynthia needed to get her blood moving. She cinched the robe tightly around her waist and walked out the service door into the darkened hallway.
Five minutes later, Cynthia was back in the kitchen, the Post spread open on the Pedini island. Her reflection hovered at its edges -- forehead pinched, cheeks flushed, mouth agape. She played a game with herself, shutting her eyes, then forcing them open again. The photo remained unchanged.
Screw the Red Bull. Sleeping Beauty was wide awake.