Small towns tend to harbor secrets within their closed-lipped elite, and the town of Norwich Notch is no different, as Chelsea Kane finds out when she arrives in search of answers.
Given up for adoption within minutes of her birth, Chelsea has always wondered about her humble beginnings. Was she the product of an ill-fated affair? Or the unexpected pregnancy of a poor family with too many mouths to feed? Does she have family out in the big wide world, or are they all dead and buried along with the truth of her identity?
For most of her life, it seems as if she will never know. Her adoptive mother was sickly with polio, and Chelsea never had the heart to ask her. Chelsea’s adoptive father became defensive and angry whenever the subject was broached. Then Chelsea’s mother died.
A lone key in a tattered envelope, delivered by the family lawyer, holds the most promising, and only, lead to go on– the postmark of Norwich Notch.
Chelsea has no idea what she will discover about her birth family, but she is willing to investigate to fill the void she has felt her whole life. She travels to the place of her birth under the guise of business – Chelsea is an architect in search of a supplier, and Plum Granite is as good a place as any to begin nosing around. The company, stubbornly planted in the olden days, lacks the capital to bring the business into competitive running. Seeing a way to wrangle herself into the community, Chelsea offers her sound business expertise and abundant bank account, unaware of how close the ghosts of her past linger.
The Passions of Chelsea Kane by Barbara Delinsky is a story about uncovering the past in order to appreciate the present, and Delinsky does a magnificent job, as always. While most of her books could be considered romance, this novel has at its heart a well-crafted mystery, complex human emotions, and yes, even a combustible romance.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking of this novel as another typical romance book, for it is so much more. Delinsky does a thorough job of excavating hidden emotions, and uncovering the motivations behind many adoptions. The cast is complex, with many readers will love, hate or sympathize with – each with their own stories to tell– and it all culminate in a nail-bitting finale.
The problem with The Passions of Chelsea Kane is the fact that one or two issues are not solved by novels end. Granted, they are not key plot elements, but the reader still longs to know -- what happened with the Company? Who won the bet and got control of it? What about the father, did she ever tell him?
The novel is paced well, with just enough detail to make it believable. Again, I found myself up well past my bedtime, dutifully flipping pages to see where Chelsea ended up, if she unearthed her personal history, and if she was pleased with who and what she found.
As an adoptee, I easily sympathized with the feelings that Chelsea had regarding her adoption and subsequent search. Delinsky did her homework well on that account, and her attention to the emotional complexities shines through in this book.
Overall, this is an enthralling read, with enough plot complications and emotional complexities to leave the reader feeling, by novel's end, that one has just witnessed a saga unfold through the anonymity of a stranger in the shadows.