Midnight Gold by Kathleen Wells
(Precious Gems, $1.96, PG)
**
The premise of Midnight Gold was promising. Patricia Simpson is an anthropology student from Maine who has arranged to dig for farming artifacts on a reservation in Arizona. Someone is trying to scare her off, first by leaving nasties in her apartment in Boston, then threatening her upon her arrival at the reservation. The mysterious Raphael Cordova appears on her first day, helps Patricia change a flat tire, and warns her to leave for her own good. Patricia is equally determined to stay.

Unfortunately, the rest of this story seems to be stitched together by a combination of immature behavior on the part of the heroine and a host of plot contrivances and implausibilities. Patricia is physically attracted to Cordova, but quickly decides he's behind the attempts to drive her out, even though she has absolutely no evidence. This leads to several scenes of "Patricia in trouble" that don't make any sense.

For example: when half-naked men wearing ceremonial paint show up at her campsite and threaten her, the tribal leaders decide she needs some protection and assign a crew to stick around and help. This works fine, until there's a need to have Patricia threatened again to keep the plot moving, so the author has Patricia convince the men that she'd be fine if she stayed alone at the camp for a weekend. Of course, the bad guys quickly show up again and throw spears at her, then leave. Cordova immediately turns up, sees what has happened, tells her she could have been killed, remarks that Patricia has beautiful hair, then rides away again. Huh??

So what we have here is a plot filled with scene after scene of Patricia being threatened, interspersed with Patricia being suspicious of Cordova and lusting after his body.

Oh, and she also stamps her foot when she gets mad.

While I think that this debut author shows promise, more than an interesting idea is necessary to make a satisfactory romance. Intelligent characters, a cohesive plot, and realistic actions are also needed. Precious Gems asks a lot of a story that's only about 170 pages long. Midnight Gold didn't quite deliver.

--Cathy Sova


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