The Diamond Secret
Sylvie Montague is the daughter of a famous Formula One race car driver, which makes her both a frequent target of the tabloids and a skilled motorist in her own right. A gemologist by trade, she comes to Scotland at the behest of the Glasgow police, who need her help evaluating a startling collection of jewels seized in a raid. The trip is also a homecoming of sorts for Sylvie, as her mother was Scottish and her grandmother still lives there. But her trip takes an unexpected turn when she checks into her hotel, opens her bag, and discovers that it’s been switched with someone else’s. Even more surprising, inside the bag is a gem Sylvie instantly recognizes as Katerina’s Blood, a legendary diamond with a ruby floating in its center.
It seems unlikely that such a notorious gem would end up in Sylvie’s possession by accident, especially when she discovers a card inside containing the phone number of the bag’s owner. When she calls it, she’s stunned to receive the voice mail of Paul Maigny, the only man she ever loved. The dashing Frenchman was like a surrogate father to her, filling the role vacated by her own too-often absent or inattentive father. Though she loved him, he believed himself too old for her and didn’t return her feelings. Now their relationship is strained. Then there’s Luca Colceriu, the mysterious Romanian man she met on the flight. He seems to be particularly attentive toward her, and Sylvie isn’t sure she can trust his interest. Before long, she finds herself on a chase across Scotland, trying to evade those who want to take the diamond from her. Needless to say, those racing skills come in handy.
This story is best enjoyed as pure escapist fare, a chance to play armchair adventurer and dash off to foreign countries without leaving home. I loved the book’s international flair, which includes the multinational cast of characters, the setting, and the places Sylvie remembers from her well-traveled childhood. The locales aren’t portrayed with great detail, but there’s enough flavor to capture them decently enough. It unfolds at a galloping pace, with the entire story taking place within a few days, and there’s plenty of action throughout. The concept of Katerina’s Blood, a cursed gem with a sad history, was particularly cool.
While the story is always interesting, it’s mostly empty calories. There’s very little substance beneath the glossy surface. The story is told in first person by Sylvie, and she proves to be a rather thin creation. Wind reveals a great deal about her heroine, as flashbacks to Sylvie’s childhood and relationship with Paul are interspersed with the present-day action. But after a while, I realized that as much as the author was telling the reader about Sylvie, the woman herself never really came into focus. She’s all surface and no depth, a collection of facts but not a full-dimensional person. That’s still more than can be said about the other characters, some of whom are intriguing, all of whom remain rather sketchy.
It certainly doesn’t help that the plot depends too heavily on Sylvie making foolish decisions. Late in the book, when forced to confront how horribly everything’s gone, she acknowledges making some stupid choices. I could only think, “Oh, so you are capable of realizing those were dumb choices, are you? Too bad you didn’t figure that out sooner.” I also had mixed feelings about the relationship between Sylvie and Paul. There were times it struck me as vaguely creepy, not to mention kind of sad, the way she fell for this much older stand-in father she worshipped since she was a little girl. Yet the storyline became persuasive after a while and built to an ending that did strike me as romantic in spite of my earlier reservations.
The Diamond Secret is a decent read while it lasts. The best thing about the Bombshell line is the novelty factor, and this story is more different and intriguing than the usual series fare. At the very least I enjoyed luxuriating in the atypical settings and interesting lives of these unordinary characters. At the same time, it’s a rather shallow tale, and even now I can feel it fading from memory. All in all, armchair adventurers could probably do better, but they could also do far worse.