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The Passions of Chelsea Kane    by Barbara Delinsky order for
Passions of Chelsea Kane
by Barbara Delinsky
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (1992)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Architect Chelsea Kane is grateful for the life and the love her adoptive parents have given her, but after the death of her mother, she knows it's time to search out her roots. When Chelsea receives a mysterious key and the name of the Maine town where she was born, it seems to be a sign. When she announces her plans to visit Norwich Notch, her father and her best friend and business partner, Carl, are less than supportive. Though Carl has always believed they'd make the perfect couple, Chelsea has refused his many proposals. She values him as a friend, close confidante and business partner, but the passion she's searching for just isn't there. But Carl keeps pushing and finally convinces her to sleep with him, if only to prove or disprove her theory.

A few weeks later Chelsea finds herself pregnant. On her way to break the news to Carl, she discovers that he's been seeing a former girl friend, who's also pregnant, and that she and Carl plan to marry. Chelsea leaves Boston and invests in a failing granite quarry in Norwich Notch after convincing the patriarchal owner, Oliver Plum, that, without her support, his business would go bankrupt and put most of the town out of work. Plum grudgingly allows her a year to get new contracts and turn the company around. Determined to prove herself to Plum and the suspicious townsfolk, to bear and raise her child, and to find her own birth mother, Chelsea moves into an old farmhouse for an extended stay.

She finds herself drawn to three people: Donna, a shopkeeper whose husband abuses her; Hunter Love, a dark and troubled man; and Judd Streeter, foreman at the quarry. Donna becomes a good friend, Hunter a mystery to unravel, and Judd her lover. Soon, residents of the straight-laced town are abuzz over their affair and, a short time later, over the revelation about Chelsea's pregnancy. Judd is angry and hurt that Chelsea hadn't confided in him -- and oddly enough that the child wasn't his. Eventually she proves herself and her good intentions to the people of Norwich Notch, including the man who might be her father. But others would rather see Chelsea gone for good, rather than digging up old secrets that were better left buried.

While The Passions of Chelsea Kane is a bit slow to start as Delinsky builds her characters, their backgrounds and their motivations, she eventually moves all the pieces on her complicated story board in the right direction for an enticing story. Her graduated pacing stirs up a nice air of mystery, as she drops various clues about who (or what) may be trying to scare Chelsea back to Boston. Delinsky also creates an interesting and believable small town dynamic where the citizens are resentful and suspicious of city people, and protective of their old fashioned ways. While Chelsea and other characters don't always make the right decisions (and you want to shake them for it) this only makes the tale believable and shows characters simply being human.

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