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Material Girl    by Julia London order for
Material Girl
by Julia London
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Robin Lear, eldest daughter of self-made millionaire Aaron Lear of Lear Transport Industries, has money, beauty, power, and a position at her father's firm. She's on top of the world, living a happy, jet set lifestyle. Little does she know what fate has in store. One fine day, she and her two younger sisters are summoned to the family ranch, where her father drops the bombshell that he's dying of cancer. Aaron Lear wants nothing more than to have his daughters happy - the true happiness that he had with their mother. With little time left to pussyfoot around, he tells his daughters the bald truth and only succeeds in offending them. As his eldest child, who's always idolized him, Robin is deeply hurt when her father accuses her of being a failure in business, and returns to Houston in a rage.

There Robin meets newly hired contractor, Jake Manning, in a most memorable way. With a family to take care of, Jake is Robin's opposite - he works hard, and understands the value of hard-earned money. When Robin is compelled by her father to learn more about the business and to work from home, Robin and Jake end up in close quarters, and gradually develop an understanding. In a classic case of opposites attract, an overwhelming passion develops. However a vast social, economic and psychological gulf separates them. Can these two individuals, who seem to have nothing but passion in common, make it as a couple? Obstacles include their respective families (her dad hates him, his mom dislikes her). But the biggest complication in their relationship is Robin herself; can this material girl learn the true value of love?

Julia London's Material Girl is sure to ring a bell with many readers. While it's not a new concept, its fresh outlook makes for an enjoyable read. Jake is convincing as the typical guy-next-door. Robin, a woman with all the privileges of wealth and none of the responsibility, comes across as careless and shallow. The story calls for Robin to change her thinking on many levels. Some are well conceived, but unfortunately poorly expressed so that Robin's development isn't very believable. However, the passion between the two leads scorches the pages. They develop a deeper understanding in a manner that is beautifully expressed, the highlight of an otherwise predictable novel. It looks like the author will be back with more on the other two Lear sisters, Rachel and Rebecca, in the future.

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