A DELICATE BALANCE
Roberta Gellis


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Embiid Publishing, 1993
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Romantic Suspense

Poor Linda is bored to tears. She is rich and attractive. She is loved and trusted. She has the freedom to do whatever she wants. How can she possibly make a satisfying life out of all this? She decides to take a job.

Without job skills, Linda finds few possibilities in the want ads. She applies for a job as companion to a charming elderly lady. She is accepted immediately, and here the suspense begins. Why does her employer, Mrs. Bates, seem so frightened of her klutzy young nephew Peter that she is stampeded into hiring Linda as soon as he appears? Then there are the not-so-pleasant young twins, and their mother, Mrs. Bates’ sister-in-law, who seems a tigress on their behalf. Gertrude, the loyal long-time maid with an amazing unlucky streak, is also part of this family group. Mrs. Bates’ friend, General Barthemeles, quickly becomes Linda’s ally.

Minor accidents keep occurring that seem to threaten Mrs. Bates, and no one in the family wants to think about them. When Linda shows an interest in solving this puzzle, Mrs. Bates sets her to work arranging a group migration from London to Corfu, so she will be too busy for puzzles. The stratagem backfires, however, because Linda discovers in the process that she does have some very marketable job skills, and she also gets to know the ambiguous nephew Peter far better than Mrs. Bates would like if she knew. This is the love story, a sweet and funny one. I still laugh when I think of an especially memorable tryst on board ship. Linda’s bid to make something satisfying of her life is bound to be a complete success.

Author Roberta Gellis is modest about A DELICATE BALANCE, but it is a delightful little read with a mature sense of humor. Certain slapstick incidents would have been heavy-handed if written by many romance authors; Gellis treats them with light affection and makes them some of the most unforgettable scenes in the book. Her peripheral characters are not explored as deeply in A DELICATE BALANCE as in her longer, historical romances, but they always interact consistently with the psychology the author has chosen for them. It gives an authentic quality to the emotional conflicts which is missing in most romance novels. The mystery is not a difficult one to solve, but the emotional background of the miscreant is completely believable, and so are the questionable interactions of the other members of the group.

If Roberta Gellis is going to be republishing more of her lapsed works as ebooks, she might be reason enough in herself to get an ebook reader.

Aug 2002 Review, Original Version Published by Reviewing the Evidence

 

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