Themes

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The lives of the rich and famous with their twists, turns, and little secrets are endlessly fascinating. Collins develops this theme in nearly all her books, and it has brought her tremendous financial success and popularity. Tabloids and television shows that probe the lives of the entertainment world's celebrities are enormously popular; Collins takes these kinds of people and incidents, fictionalizes them, and tells a gripping, convoluted story about them.

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But there are also other themes, such as the moralistic "crime does not pay": Any characters who do dastardly deeds pay for them before the last page of the book. For example, Clarissa Browning got away with several murders in her youth. Granted, the victims were terrible people who did her great harm, but American morality and justice dictate that one cannot get away with murder. Although she is never caught by the authorities and charged with any of her crimes, by the end of the book she comes to an untimely and punitive end (caused ironically or psychotically by herself): "an entire yacht filled with Hollywood celebrities had been blown sky-high .... The tragedy was caused not by one fire but by a series of fires, set by a person or persons unknown . . . . There had been five fatalities .... The fifth victim was being buried — Hollywood style .... Clarissa Browning was certainly getting a star's send-off."

Another theme Collins develops is that the good-hearted are always rewarded; the deserving always live happily ever after. A Cleveland Plain Dealer review describes it as "Happy outcomes and good guys getting to dish out lots of satisfying revenge before they live happily ever after . . ." Collins's good characters are rarely difficult to spot. They are certainly not flawless, and they often have some sick habits. But when the chips are down, they rise to the occasion. Jack Python, Jade Johnson, and Wes Money are such characters, and they are immediately recognizable because all of them are selfless in dealing with, respectively, an errant niece, a gay brother, and a destitute "orphan." And although they all go through changes where their patience and good-heartedness are sorely tried, they remain true to their code of ethics and in the end all are rewarded: Jack and Jade come together in a true love relationship; Wes, finally shed of the hang-ups of his past, has a chance for happiness and self-esteem in his marriage to Silver Anderson.

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Characters