Baldrige, who attended Vassar with her friend Jackie Kennedy, went on to become White House social secretary and later head of a public relations firm; she is the author of several books on social etiquette. Her fiction debut is a romantic novel set in the milieu she knows best. Boston blueblood Marika Wentworth runs a New York PR firm and is best friends with the president and the First Lady. Widowed, she has focused her attentions on her now teenaged daughter and on her business, shunning romance--until she meets wealthy, Jewish, Chicago-based businessman Jonathon Scher at a White House dinner. Living in separate cities, immersed in their careers, they pursue their relationship through long phone calls and brief romantic weekends, which tend to obscure fundamental differences in their backgrounds. Marika's WASPy standards and Jonathon's mother's heavy-handed attempt to see that her son does not marry out of the faith create conflicts when the two abruptly decide to wed. Dissension is inevitable; in its wake, Marika is galvanized into soul-searching about love, work and her recently discovered Hungarian ancestry. Though Baldrige indulges in the glitzy name-dropping endemic to the commercial novel, her prose is literate and her story timely. Unfortunately, her overly detailed descriptions of White House protocol and pointed comments on the true meaning of good breeding (as opposed to vulgar social-climbing) add an insistent, annoying tone of noblesse oblige. (Nov.)
When WASP widow and successful public relations honcho Marika Wentworth meets rags-to-riches millionaire businessman Jonathan Scher, sparks fly and love blossoms. But their disparate backgrounds and religions, plus a family secret from Marika's past, soon threaten to destroy their newfound happiness. A former White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration, Baldrige gives her essentially routine first novel some spice with her in-depth knowledge of public relations and White House protocol. She does a wonderful job of describing a state dinner, and Marika's attendance at a sinfully extravagant party given by a member of New York's nou veau riche society is also nicely portrayed. These choice tidbits certainly compensate for the predictable romance.-- Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz.