In the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of View Park, the Chases are known as black royalty. We're introduced to them by means of their extravagant mansion, which depicts their lifestyle and philosophy: "The statement was class, sophistication and most importantly, power. It had to be. After all, the Chase family was one of the richest and most powerful African-American families in the country, the richest on the West Coast. No one could put a label to them, white or black; no matter how hard they tried, using every other rich family existing now and before them."
Although things on the outside seem perfect, Chase family members are poster children for dysfunctional relationships. With their larger-than-life status, finding themselves in the middle of one messy controversy after another seems unavoidable.
When patriarch Steven Chase, CEO of the Chase Beauty Corporation, specializing in cosmetics for women of color, decides to expand his business by taking over several LA salons and launching his own chain, he enlists the help of sons Carter and Michael. However, the difficult takeover brings the family's power to the public's attention, and Carter finds himself falsely accused of attempted murder while involved in a risky love affair.
The Chase women keep things just as interesting. Janet, the matriarch, is the perfect socialite she was raised to be. However, her children rebel against her ideals, making it hard for Janet to protect the family's social image and maintain positive family relations.
Older daughter Leigh, a doctor, plans to open a free clinic for children with HIV and AIDS, but her parents want her to be highly paid. Her personal and professional lives intertwine when her mother attempts to set her up with a well-to-do suitor at the same time she's becoming romantically involved with a doctor in her clinic. Youngest child Haley lands in a mess when she witnesses a murder while on a boat with a married congressman. Her spoiled, selfish behavior makes keeping her safe a challenge for both police and family.
This fast-paced novel is for those looking to lose themselves in the story of lives ruled by social status and all that's involved. While the individual events linking Chase family members aren't necessarily unrealistic, tying together so many extreme scenarios can seem overwrought. But once you get your footing with all that's going on, the story lines will help you fully understand all of the characters and their personalities. Even so, Winters needn't resort to such complex measures in the next installment, to be published next July.
If you're looking for a light read with a heavy dose of drama, View Park is an entertaining start to a trilogy. Winters left me in suspense (and a little ashamed about that), eager to see how the characters and controversies will evolve.