ISBN 0061076058 - I almost hate myself for really liking this book but it, like the soap opera it's based on, is a guilty pleasure. Unlike the soap (quite possibly the slowest moving soap opera ever created), the book is action packed and relatively fast-paced, making it a nice back story for viewers and an entertaining story for the non-viewers.
Tabitha Lenox, a three hundred or so year old witch, tells - and influences - the stories of several Harmony residents. A small New England town, Harmony is home to the Cranes, Bennetts, Winthrops and Russells and some of those families have histories that go back as far as Tabitha's. The Cranes, rich beyond compare, have spent centuries taking over the town until they run everything, even the police. Julian, spoiled playboy, is the current generation of Cranes. He has fallen in love with a black medical student/jazz singer by the name of Eve Johnson, but his father, Alistair, has other plans for his son. He will twist him and his future to best serve the family.
Among the police run by the Cranes are the Bennett men, who have a history in Harmony, too. The current Bennett generation is represented by Sam, who is in love with Ivy Winthrop. Too bad for him that Alistair and Ivy's father have already decided that Ivy will marry Julian, sending Sam running. In an effort to get away from painful memories, Sam runs to Boston and into the path of a young woman whose destiny has always been Sam. Grace Standish has her own 300 years of family history that ties her to Harmony - through the eternal fight of good and evil. The Standish woman are good, Tabitha Lenox is evil and Grace and Sam's relationship brings a clash closer.
Sam's best friend, T.C. Russell, has been raised by his father. T.C. is on the way to Wimbledon and absolutely focused on this goal. The night before a very big match against Julian Crane, T.C. is run off the road, shattering his body and his future. A lifelong hatred of the Cranes, Julian in particular, sprouts and grows until he meets Eve. To him, Eve has high moral standards and is all things good. Best of all, perhaps, she is untouched by the Cranes. Or so he thinks. All of the characters are, of course, unaware of Tabitha's influence over the events that influence their lives. It has to stay that way, obviously, because Tabitha's already been burned "to death" for witchery once.
What a fun story, with all the twists and turns that make and break up couples, placing them all on a collision course. The collision never happens in the book, so for the repercussions, you'll have to catch up on the show. Still, the book does stand alone and is a bunch of fun.
The worst negative is that the story is "told" by Tabitha, making the love scenes (not sex scenes) hard to swallow. Tabitha (evil witch) would hardly be likely to write gushingly of love. The sex scenes are on a par with romance novel stuff, perhaps a little better. At one point, Alistair's ancestor Alfred is referred to as Alistair, but that's a small thing. Bigger is the lack of 300 years of history for the Russell or Johnson families - since both families are black, the possibility of slavery factoring in might have influenced that choice, but it's still sad that the two black families have the least history.
On the positive side, Hidden Passions is true to Passions form, referring to god often but only using God when it's the Standish women. And, always good with the sly-wink-pop-culture reference, the Cranes hire a new girl from Westport, Connecticut, "Martha something-or-other", to cater a party. (For the slow witted, the author later refers to her as "the Stewart woman".) Alice Alfonsi, the author, does a superb job with characters she didn't create, staying true to their motivations. I look forward to seeing what she can do with her own characters!