BOOKS . . . INFAMOUS: As a novelist chronicling the world of the Rolexed and surgically enhanced, Joan Collins has always existed in the shadow of her prolific sister Jackie. That position wasn't helped by a bitter legal dispute with her Random House editors who claimed her new novel (Dutton; 308 pages; $23.95) was just too dreadful to commit to print. After much rewriting that Collins insists was done on her own, the result is not half bad, says TIME's Ginia Bellafante. "While no one will pick up Infamous and start faxing their friends on the Booker Prize committee, Collins has succeeded in turning out an entertaining and, more to the point, largely unembarrassing piece of fiction. Indeed, 'Infamous' has all the ingredients of a respectably good-bad romance novel: boozy Hollywood parties, fights in Venice, sex in St. Tropez and a savvy divorce lawyer named Barry Lefkovitz." Our heroine is Katherine Bennet, a fortyish nighttime soap actress trying to live and love in a world she must share with so many Donna Millses -- 'Infamous,' one quickly infers, is based on the author's 'Dynasty' years. Does the book feel true to its world? Absolutely, says Bellafante. "Throughout, Katherine must juggle the burdens of paparazzi, baggy eyelids and a vile, bejeweled lover named Jean-Claude."