Out of her league and desperate, Laurel is forced to accept help from the very man who is trying to ensnare her father in his own web of double crosses. Cruz Rowan can help her stay alive, but will he do the same for her father?
Elizabeth Lowell, writing as Ann Maxwell, deftly combines the nonstop action of a spy thriller with the heart-pounding excitement of true love and adventure.
Comment: I'm a book collector, like many other readers, which means I often get more books than the ones I can immediately get to (that's how TBR lists get bigger) and at a time I didn't have much money, I got many cheap or second handed books, I go to the library too, because there might be one day I won't be able to buy many and I'll have a good pile, just like ants pile up food for winter.
Anyway, this means there are books in the pile for a long time... this one had been there since 2010, according to a penciled written note I added in the first page.
Sometimes, gems are found, others not so much, others yet are so-so which was what I ended up thinking about this one.
In this story we meet Laurel Swann, she is a jeweler maker who works with stones and gems and she is a cautious woman, not too prone for close relationships since she saw how hurt her mother always was because of her father's distance and difficult to be present.
This story begins when her inconstant father sends her a parcel which contains a very valuable piece, something very powerful people are also after. Her father arrives to take the parcel but Laurel is already in danger because her father's enemies won't stop until they get their hands on the item.
In comes Cruz Rowan, an ex FBI agent who now works for a private organization and who is charged to recover the item too, as well as protecting Laurel. Between the two develops something neither can name at first but that might influence their choices in the incoming fight for survival...
This book was originally published in 1994 with another title (The Ruby) and this is a new edition of that same story. In some aspects it shows when the story was done, considering the style but since this was my first book by the author I cannot judge if this is the usual for her writing or if it just was a story that now feels rather dated.
The story basically follows a simple plot: Laurel is minding her own - if somewhat lonely - life when the parcel arrives, sent by her absent father, with whom she has a complicated relationship. Since he is a rather shady character, bad guys want what was in the parcel and Laurel needs to be protected, which happens when the bodyguard-like Cruz arrives. Cruz works for a company that also wants to recover the parcel so there are second intentions for Cruz' presence in Laurel's house. They run away to the company's safe location in the desert where, supposedly, we are to believe Laurel and Cruz fall in love. At the same time, secondary bad guys play their roles and we get to see how mean and perverted they are and in the end all ends up well.
I must say the story's details didn't improve this little summary of a rather basic plot line and the characters weren't exactly developed in a way that I'd now consider logical/understandable.
Laurel is a very plain character because she only seems to go to the expected reactions and she can't seem to be as inquisitive as I'd think of someone in her shoes. She is the symbol of those old fashioned heroines who are special, who are captivating to others in their unawareness of how much sex appeal they have or how intriguing but I don't think these things were shown so the show-don't-tell motto so many writers (probably) would like to do doesn't easily apply. Well, not in regards to the "good guys" I'd say.
The hero, Cruz, is aloof, a man looking for to keep up with his honor code, whether his own or of the country/company he represents but as a romance hero he is just too mysterious. Still, I could appreciate his personality a lot more than the heroine's.
The romance, though, was quite basic and lacking strength. It was all inferring and suppositions and messages conveyed through touch and looks but not really a logical understanding of what was happening. They are both good looking, honorable, caught in a situation where they face the same issues.. they had to be made for one another, although how convincing it is that, after such a short amount of time and while in an adrenaline-infused situation without being aware of how in sync they can be outside of a dangerous situation, they think are really a good match, I don't think it's well done. However, it was how romances worked... the main couple had to have a mystical connection somehow, even against logic...
If the author wrote the romance in a way that had to make sense even if not, what to say about the huge amount of scenes featuring the bad guys, their descriptions, actions and reactions to what was going on...I mean, what is missing in relation to the good guys was used ten times more with the bad ones and, like many readers, I found the intimacy scenes featuring the bad guys really distasteful. Not that they were offensive per se, but what did it matter to put in evidence something for shock value? It certainly didn't add up to the main plot and the many scenes showing instead of just telling what was happening were quite a waste of time, if one thinks about it.
All in all, this is dated and it shows. The plot is solved in a rather simple manner for the time it took for the story to develop. It was an entertaining story but in the genre (romantic thriller/suspense) there are better things and if one reads for for the romance alone, it could have been better too.
Despite the less than good elements, it was easy to read, so there's that...