Picks and Pans Review: Star

updated 04/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Danielle Steel

If Ronald Reagan was a Teflon President, Danielle Steel is a Teflon novelist. Critics can carp (justifiably) at her style. They can complain (accurately) about her paper-thin characterizations and laugh at her dumb plots. It doesn't matter. Steel's novels inexorably hit the best-seller list as if directed by lasers. So, no doubt, it will be with Star. The book centers on Crystal Wyatt, the lissome, blond, honey-voiced daughter of a Napa Valley rancher. Her hair was wheaten, "her eyes were the color of the summer sky, her limbs long and graceful." And like most heroines of this genre, Crystal was "totally unaware of how startlingly beautiful she was."

Others notice her beauty quickly enough, notably Spencer Hill, an officer back from World War II who appears at the wedding of Crystal's sister. He notes that "her voice was deep and smooth and as silky as the blond hair that seemed to beg him to touch it.... She was all delicate sensuality like a fragrant flower growing wild on a mountain top." The attraction was not one-sided. "There was a polish to the man and a quiet sophistication that fascinated Crystal. Everything about him was immaculate and expensive.... But more than that, she was fascinated by his eyes. There was something about him that drew her to him like a magnet." Whew. As also happens with most heroines of the genre, a lot happens to Crystal. After her father dies, she is raped by her brother-in-law. When Crystal goes after him with a rifle, he kills her brother. Guilt-ridden and madly in love with Spencer, Crystal goes to San Francisco which, Steel says, "was only the first stop and after that, who knew where the winds of fortune would take her."

Those winds of fortune blow hot and cold for Crystal. She gets a job as a waitress in a Barbary Coast restaurant-cum-nightclub and becomes a singing sensation, goes to Hollywood and hooks up with a vulpine agent whom she is eventually accused of murdering. Meanwhile, Spencer can't get Crystal out of his mind or heart. Still, being a bit of a jellyfish, he marries a woman who has "rock-hard" eyes but redeeming qualities: She is the beautiful, rich, ambitious daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. The marriage is a mondo big mistake to Spencer, who desires love, tenderness and children. He will eventually find everything he is looking for and so, naturally, will Crystal, but readers must be patient. After one of Spencer's many fights with his cold, practical wife, a quarrel during which he confides his romantic dreams, she replies, "You read too many novels." And Danielle Steel writes too many. (Delacorte, $19.95)

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