Monday, August 8, 2011


Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: July 2002
ISBN: 0-345-44739-5
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Mass Market Papberback
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Library

On a cold winter night in December 1971 a woman crosses the street in front of her apartment. From out of the dark a car careens into her and then, instead of stopping to help, the driver backs up and runs over the woman again.

Thirty years later a former White House press secretary contacts his former student with an offer that sounds just too good to be true—write a book touting a wonderful ex-President to coincide with his son’s run for the White House. In exchange, a book the student has been trying to find a publisher for will find its way into print. Despite his gut telling him the deal is too good to be true, former journalist Simon Keller begins his research on former President Graham Hayward. With each door that opens he finds pleasant and cultured friends and family. Each is perfect with a balanced life and genteel graciousness. But when he suggests going to visit the ex-President’s former chief of staff, Miles Kendall’s rigid walls of resistance greet him. Rather than deter Simon, he makes arrangements to see Kendall. His early visits seem to lead nowhere—Kendall has Alzheimer’s and like most with this memory stealing disease, the former Chief of Staff rambles about his long ago past until one break through interview. What Kendall tells Simon turns his world upside down. Pursuing the story behind the story, Simon finds Dina McDermott, a lovely landscape architect with a heart of gold. When an attempt eerily reminiscent of the attack on another woman some thirty years earlier is made on Dina, Simon comes face to face with his own values. Will Dina live long enough for her and Simon to find their way to each other?

After the action packed, breath holding stories told in VOICES CARRY and BROWN EYED GIRL, THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER was a huge disappointment. At times I felt like Ms. Stewart was writing the book because she had to and not because she felt a passion for the story. The recurrent themes of a fabulous garden coupled with Ms Stewart’s signature calling card of drawing attention to a societal ill—this time the devastation cancer can wreck on not only the patient but their family and friends, do not make up for a lackluster story.

Had I not committed to reading all of Ms. Stewart’s work for a review package I would have stopped reading early on. The story doesn’t begin to take off until you are almost one-third of the way through. Simon caves into doing the right thing way too soon and without any true emotional response. When Dina is kidnapped she seems to just go along with the program. The ending is less than satisfying, coming through as reminiscent of Ms. Stewart’s earlier work in MOMENTS IN TIME and A DIFFERENT LIGHT. What could have been a dramatic, heart stopping story seems to stall in its own path. There is no satisfaction in the villains getting their due and everyone seems to just go back to life the way it was before.

THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGTHER is an easy read and if you are looking for a sweet book with nice people it is a good selection.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of the book.

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