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Soap Bubbles by Denise Dietz
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594148750
Date: 07 May 2010 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Mystery writer and romance novelist Denise Dietz's new novel Soap Bubbles will confuse some of her readers and fascinate others. She features three ugly ducklings—Delly, Anissa, and Maryl from childhood ducklings to adult swans. Two, Delly Diamond and Anissa Cartier, become actors in "Morning Star," a television soap opera, and the third, Maryl Wiggins, succeeds as a willowy model.

The women, born in the late 1950s, experience abuse, rejection, and also love. Period detail takes the reader on their journey to adulthood. Sex and teen-age angst permeates most of their growing years. Despite obstacles, they succeed to survive and prosper.

Delly prides herself on her intellect and struggles after her father's death at the hands of a campus sniper. Anissa, the senator's beautiful daughter, resents his focus on using her as a means to gain an heir. Maryl's father draws a successful tongue-in-cheek cartoon strip and she works in his office. The three have much in common and become close friends. Later, they discover their many links.

Dietz's depiction of television provides lots of cutting, witty dialogue. Unfortunately, Delly becomes so centered in her character, a woman who suffered a mental breakdown and is in a mental hospital, she loses touch with reality. The writer who sponsored Delly and wrote her into the soap opera places demands on her that she abhors. The chain-smoking director of the soap opera adds to the high stress of daily television and makes everyone's life miserable. More than one actor and staff member vows to kill her.

The murder mystery comes late and forces two of the women to find out who destroyed the television studio where at least one person died. A satisfying climax will please most although some may complain the solution becomes too pat. Still, most readers will root for the women and their lovers and applaud the ending.

My own memories of the fifties and sixties don't quite fit with Dietz's depiction. While some teen-agers dabbled in sex, good girls did not. Hence, the emphasis on it seems overdone. Even during the seventies, sex while common among adults, was less prevalent among teens than it is at present. Frank language predominates. For those who like gossip about celebrities, the novel offers plenty of juicy tidbits about high-pressure television series. Yes, stereotypical actors and situations predominate, but Dietz makes the reader care about her characters.

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