All That Glitters by Viveca Carlysle
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-7680-0609-9
*
All That Glitters is a story about an ugly side of the beauty business.

Sweet Lies, Viveca Carlysle's first novel, was published nearly two years ago. It was an engaging action adventure romance that featured a mysterious hero named "Palladin." All That Glitters is her second novel. The hero is just as enigmatic.

Caesar Montgomery, alias Sarito Valerian a/k/a Caesar Sarito Valerian Montgomery, is a former hairstylist to the stars who sits on the board of Cassiopeia Salons. Cassiopeia is a successful high-profile salon on New York's Fifth Avenue. Stephanie Lambert and her rock-star husband Paul were recently murdered. Stephanie's sister, Leigh Barrington, has inherited the Lamberts' interest in Cassiopeia and is about to take over as CEO.

Leigh and Stephanie were estranged prior to the murder. After investing in a series of losing businesses, Stephanie and their aunt Helene, stole Leigh's concept for a salon up to and including the name. The Lamberts created Cassiopeia and the two sisters hadn't spoken since.

Caesar and Leigh meet in the Caribbean, where she is vacationing before going to New York to claim her inheritance. She is unaware of Caesar/Sarito's real identity and they have a fling, of sorts. Once she finds out who he is, Leigh is hurt, skeptical of his motives and wary of her attraction to him.

Back in New York, Leigh is assaulted on all fronts by the board, her Aunt Helene, by an irate client, by a corporate raider who wants the land on which Cassiopeia sits and by the person who killed the Lamberts. She soon learns that Caesar is her only ally on the board. They call a truce and enter into a merger. By marrying Caesar, he agrees to turn over his shares of stock and controlling interest in Cassiopeia.

All That Glitters is a marriage of convenience story of deception and betrayal. After a slow start, All That Glitters picked up. I really enjoyed the relationship between Caesar and Leigh. A secondary romance also showed promise. And, although I guessed the murderer's identity early on, I still needed to know why.

However, just as I was getting into the story, I was ambushed by a major production gaffe. Apparently there were two versions of the novel that made it to the final editing process. Somehow both versions were merged in the final production stages of the book.

Two major revelations made in the story are revealed differently in two parts of the book approximately 60 pages apart. I had to reread it to make sure that I hadn't overread a flashback or a dream sequence. (I thought I had gotten a bad copy, so I checked a local bookstore. The error persists.) It is an unfortunate occurrence since one of these discoveries is a very important aspect in the relationship between the two main characters.

As a result, All That Glitters is not gold. It is lead covered by gold paint.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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