This could have been an exciting mystery, but its dull execution made for a rather emotionless and methodical read.
Christina Alberti is an expert in art history who specializes in gems and jewelry for an auction house in San Francisco. She’s in charge of a very valuable diamond necklace to be auctioned off that several people are very interested in, including a ruthless master thief, an FBI agent, and Christina’s own estranged father.
J.T. McIntyre, the FBI agent, is the man trying to bring Evan Chadwick, a man who was once his college roomate but is now his mortal enemy, to justice. From the beginning, J.T. is on the scene and watching Christina with the necklace because he knows Evan will be using her to get to the gem. What he doesn’t expect is this own strong attraction to her.
It’s not giving too much away to say that the necklace disappears and, of course, suspicion falls on Christina since not only was it her responsibility, but also because her own rather crazy father is involved. Christina is torn because she wants to protect him, but she’s paid a price for helping him before.
As Christina tries to figure out what’s going on, J.T. follows her, and the two soon act on their attraction to each other as the mystery of the necklace and Evan’s part in it deepens. There are a few interesting twists and the plot moves fairly quickly, making this an easy read. But, unfortunately, nothing elevates this read to a special or memorable level. I had no emotional connection with these characters, most of the dialogue felt flat, and the romance was hasty and unconvincing.
Evan does have a credible resume of villainous acts, but his motivation here doesn’t quite ring true, and he’s just a little too over-the-top crazy. J.T. as the protagonist is more understandable. He has a very angst-filled past involving his dead father, something in which Evan played a significant part. So we have an interesting formula of revenge and loss, but it fizzles because I found it too hard to feel for his character. There are plenty of references to J.T.’s painful past, but I just didn’t feel the emotional weight of it. I felt similarly disconnected from his romance with Christina, which develops haphazardly and without much chemistry.
Finally, I’m not a fan of stories where the female protagonist can’t stand up for herself and Christina is a victim of just about everybody. When suspicion surrounds her, and even though she knows she is completely innocent, she never stands up for herself. Due to her insecurities and her complicated past, she is more likely to flee the scene of a crime and beg her lover to break the rules and help her than stay and proclaim her innocence. It’s frustrating and it’s dumb, and yet another reason why I couldn’t get emotionally invested in her character. The author tries to redeem her before the end, but it’s too little, too late.
The plot gets sillier as the book goes on, with twists that turn it into a soap opera. In the end I was just disappointed that I never felt anything for what happened to these characters.