Whenever I pick up a Danielle Steel I feel I have successfully transitioned to the ‘Auntie’ phase of my life. Growing up in the army, all aunties were forever reading her and Barbara Cartland and these two authors are always associated in my mind with smartly dressed, very articulate army wives or ‘Aunties’ as they were to us. I received this book a little later than the rest and was not expecting it at all. I picked it up to ‘flip’ through it and ended up finishing it the same day.
According to the Goodreads blurb
Fiona Carson has proven herself as CEO of a multibillion-dollar high-tech company – a successful woman in a man’s world. Devoted single mother, world-class strategist, and tough negotiator, Fiona has to keep a delicate balance every day.
Meanwhile, Marshall Weston basks in the fruits of his achievements. At his side is his wife Liz who has gladly sacrificed her own career to raise their three children. Smooth, shrewd and irreproachable, Marshall’s power only enhances his charisma – but he harbors secrets that could destroy his life at any moment.
Both must face their own demons, and the lives they lead come at a high price. But just how high a price are they willing to pay?
When I read the blurb, I naturally assumed that these two people will meet each other one day and find true love or something. As it turns out, I was wrong. The theme that the author explores in this book is how differently men and women react or cope with power and prestige in their lives, which I thought was a brilliant idea. After all, we see important men caught time and time again with their pants down while there are hardly any powerful women who can be accused of similar transgressions.
So, we follow Fiona Carson working hard on her high-powered job and managing her life and grown up kids as well, while fending off the sexist attitudes of her male co-workers. She seems happy and almost contended in her now single life, until she meets a man who refuses to be ignored.
Marshall Weston seems just as happy in his life with a wife who has chosen to put his career and their children before her own professional life, until we are introduced to the sordid secrets of his life. He feels a sense of entitlement to a lot of things in life and seems to be bewildered when he is caught out in his transgressions. His reactions at times like this are hilarious and like those of a righteous man who can’t believe why the universe is bent on punishing him. It is astonishing the heights of his selfishness and delusions about his importance in life.
Surprisingly enough, I thought the book made for good time pass, if you like contemporary fiction that is (and aren’t more partial towards crinolines and butlers in your stories like me). Both the characters are absolutely believable and finely etched in the book. Ashley seems much too docile for an artist but it is easy to judge people and situations from a safe distance. People may also feel Fiona is a bit colourless, but I think she is just right. It is possible to be successful and have principles and not be a bitch or even utterly glamorous. Marshall has absolutely no redeeming factors, but then that can be forgiven since he is after all a man. What was sickening was his ability to completely wipe out anything that made him uncomfortable from his conscience and move on or even his ability to continuously delude himself or even his sense of injury when anyone called him out for his behaviour. And yet, he has women falling for him all the time! It is true when they say that even for the most disgusting of men, there is a woman somewhere who loves him.