|With surprises popping up every chapter and unexpected leads
rerouting the story, Diamonds Can Be Deadly is for readers who prefer their novels more plot than character driven. But don't expect to hold your breath the whole way through - unless it's with frustration. All its clever techno-gadgets, butt-kicking heroines and
international networks of operatives, criminals and spies can't pull
this novel together. On the contrary, they tear it apart.
The diamond of the title is not a stone. It's the code name for
Jordan Colby, a former model who now designs optical wear when she
isn't working for a top-secret government agency. Jordan is sent to
Hawaii to investigate rumors that a stolen emerald is in the hands of
a guru who believes in the healing powers of gems. There, she runs
into her former lover, T.J. Scott, a disgraced New York City cop now
in charge of the healer's security. She soon learns what we knew all
along: there is more to T.J.'s fall from grace. Together Jordan and
T.J. recover the emerald and save the world from all kinds of evil.
"There were too many players in the game now," T.J. observes, after
realizing he's "losing control" of the operation. The same could be
said of the novel itself. Too many characters wander in and out of
the story, weakening both the romance and the suspense plots. For one
thing, their relevance isn't always clear. Are they setting up a
sequel to the story (only to leave us rather unsatisfied at the end
of this one)? Are they red herrings (albeit ineffective ones)? Or
does the endless parade of Middle Eastern potentates, Columbian drug
lords, petty U.S. crooks, and greedy, self-deluding quacks force
irrelevant events to take much larger dimensions than originally
While I would like to be generous and assume the latter, it doesn't
help the case. The large cast of characters and the complications
they bring do indeed increase the stakes, but because much remains
irrelevant at best, unresolved at worst, they also left me
disgruntled at the end. Threats are made which suddenly disappear;
unseen problems are implied but never materialize; mysteries are
pondered only to be investigated off stage. It's hard to tell
whether these different directions will be pursued in future
installments or whether Lovelace simply overlooked them.
Worse, with so much going on, there isn't enough space for the hero
and heroine to grow and for their relationship to develop. Despite
hints about the troubled pasts they have overcome, both T.J. and
Jordan are the same faintly-drawn silhouettes (pun intended) at the
end as they are at the beginning. And while they may have resolved
some trust issues from the past, they never really open to each other.
This novel is one of several recent dissatisfying reads in this
category. I can't help wonder whether Silhouette Intimate Moments is
going through an identity crisis of sorts: it no longer knows where
it fits now that Bombshells have exploded on the scene.
Unfortunately, we readers are paying the price for the line's much-
needed inner quest - and not just literally.