Imagine not showing up for your own wedding because you figured the person you were marrying wasn’t going to show up either! That’s exactly what happened the first time Isabel De Quincy and Benedict Costigan were scheduled to wed. Both were from rival fireworks-making families, and convinced that the other was only out for personal gain.
Four years later, Isabel runs De Quincy & Sons while her brother Simon gambles his life and their possessions away. She is no longer naive where Ben is concerned. She knows he never loved her. He only wanted the recipe for Emerald Mist – one of her family’s famous displays. Still, she is enraged to discover that he is her competitor for the fireworks at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Spurred into action, she decides to do whatever necessary to prevent Ben and his vulgar pyrotechnics from winning.
Ben is surprised to find Bella even more beautiful than she had been four years ago. Even though she only wanted him for his money, he is still drawn to her. He can’t seem to stop himself from crossing the line where she is concerned, and when Isabel tries to sabotage one of his performances, he declares all out war.
Well! It’s been a long time since I’ve read verbal sparring like the confrontations between Isabel and Ben. These two rivals are equals in every way, and know exactly how to push each other’s buttons. Their desire to win is second only to their desire for each other. Despite the resurfacing of old feelings, neither completely trusts the other, so when someone starts tampering with shows and equipment, Ben can’t help but wonder if Isabel is involved, and Isabel wonders if Ben’s new interest in her has anything to do with the recipe for her newest effect, “Diamond Rain.”
I liked these characters. I really did. They were funny and warm and real. Ben often went too far in his ridicule of Isabel, humiliating her publicly. However, what she lacked in flamboyance, Isabel more than made up for in wit. Whenever she and Ben traded insults, she left him standing with his mouth hanging open. No matter what one did, the other had a retaliation. Don’t even bother trying to keep score!
Although there is plenty of sexual innuendo and tension in this book, the love scenes were surprisingly scarce and somewhat tepid. They did not live up to the expectations set up by the verbal foreplay Isabel and Ben engaged in throughout the entire book. Another problem was the ending. It didn’t fit. Of course there is a villain, but his evil plot seemed to come out of nowhere. No mention of it was made earlier in the book, so it seemed to have been pulled out of a hat. One thing I truly did like about the end, however, was the fact that Ben and Isabel still argued. It was nice to know that they weren’t going to agree all the time now that they were together.
All in all, though, I found Diamond Rain a pleasant surprise. A book I normally wouldn’t have picked up, I’m glad I had the chance to read it. Constance Laux creates engaging characters that more than compensate for a slight weakness in the plot. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from her in the future.