Bombshell by Lynda Curnyn
(Red Dress Ink, $12.95, PG) ISBN 0-373-25057-6
Bombshell is the first book I’ve read by Lynda Curnyn. Though the story is more about a woman’s journey of self-discovery than about a romance, Curnyn’s multifaceted heroine and fascinating love interest make it a worthwhile read.

When Bombshell begins, Grace Noonan faces a number of difficulties. She breaks up with her boyfriend, Ethan, when a condom crisis reveals the information that he doesn’t want to have children. He says, “We can’t have a baby together. I can’t. It’s just not part of the plan . . .”

Grace’s job situation isn’t much better. She works for Roxanne Dubrow, a cosmetic company undergoing significant change to appeal toward a younger market. Because “a full two-thirds of our marketing budget for this year is now being redirected toward making Roxy D a household name,” Grace has some work to do — and a temperamental boss to satisfy.

Family, however, is Grace’s true challenge and the issue at the heart of Bombshell. The holiday season is approaching, and Grace’s parents are going to Paris to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Though Grace feels lonely, she doesn’t want to upset her parents by sharing her feelings. Then she receives a surprising letter. Grace has known that she was adopted, and seven months earlier she located and wrote to her birth mother. When months passed with no reply, Grace believed that her birth mother, Kristina Morova, wanted nothing to do with her. The letter brings news that explains the delayed response.

Grace knows that her adoptive parents would want to know the result of the search; after all, “they knew about her, had stood by me as I tracked her down.” In spite of this fact, Grace postpones telling them. “Didn’t Shelley [Grace’s therapist] understand that there were some things that you should just deal with alone, rather than drag the rest of the universe down with you?”

Other events make Grace feel even more isolated. She learns that a friend is engaged: “I suddenly realized the true source of the sadness that had pierced me the moment she told me her happy news. While Angie’s family was growing larger, the little family I had suddenly seemed to be fading away . . .”

Grace is an interesting, multidimensional character. Bombshell is told from her point of view, which means the reader gets to know her fairly well. This isn’t always positive; I found Grace frustrating at times, especially when she seems oblivious to the fact that family is such a key issue for her. At one point, Shelley asks what having a child means to Grace, who says, “It means having someone to love. . . . It means always having someone there for you.” This seemed like a surprising statement from a woman in her thirties. Nevertheless, I ended up appreciating Grace’s humor. Take the opening sentence of the book, for example: “It amazed me to discover my relationship with Ethan was only as strong as the latex between us.”

I should mention that the romance is not the primary focus of the book. The story becomes more intriguing when Grace meets Jonathan Somerfield, and this doesn’t happen until about halfway through the book. Although Curnyn doesn’t portray his point of view, Jonathan’s complex history makes him a captivating and compelling character. Once the two characters are introduced, I couldn’t read fast enough.

The cover tagline on my ARC reads, “Older. Wiser. Blonder.” Grace is certainly older and wiser at the end of Bombshell. She may not have finished her journey, but she is well on her way.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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