The fourth book in the Donovan series, published in July 2000
Elizabeth Lowell, the New York times bestselling author of Amber Beach, Jade Island and Pearl Cove, achieves a breathtaking new level of suspense and emotional intensity with her fourth riveting adventure featuring another member of the remarkable Donovan family.
Welcome to Ruby Bayou … where beauty and peril are one.
Faith Donovan is famous for creating exquisite jewelry studded with fabulous gems. But the dangerous task of acquiring the rare rubies she needs for her art has taught Faith to be wary of anyone outside her own family – especially someone like Owen Walker, an adventurer with an intimate knowledge of the ruby trade and man’s murderous greed. But now necessity has thrown them together, as they venture into the shadowy world of the wealthy and mysterious Montegeaus in search of quality stones.
A powerful Georgia clan descended from pirates, the Montegeaus are said to possess a staggering fortune in gems, hidden for generations in the legendary Blessing Chest. In the living shadows of historic Ruby Bayou, Faith and Walker are soon drawn into a terrifying web of corruption and betrayal, and haunted by the dark, unfolding secrets of the Montegeaus past and present. For there are those who would kill for the contents of the Blessing Chest. And now two outsiders who have learned to much stand in the way.
The blurb sure mentions some true things, but makes no sense whatsoever once you have read the book.
Now Faith has broken off her relationship with her ex-fiancée Tony, she feels lonely. Her twin sister and two of her brothers have found love and are married, with children to enhance their love and family. After the failure of her relationship with an abusive bully, she has sworn of men, and is determined to become the best aunt ever, even though she still longs for a family of her own.
She is a great jewellery designer and artist, and is starting to make a name for herself in the business, apart from the family businesses and her very successful parents and brothers.
Her best friend Mel is getting married soon, and her father-in-law-to-be has asked her to design and create a necklace, with 13 gorgeous rubies in them. The real Burmese ones, not the ones cooked in smugglers fires. The 14th ruby will be her salary.
She can also use the necklace as a showpiece for a big event in Savannah in two weeks. The only problem is getting insurance for it, as there is no time to send it to an official appraiser and still get the job done in time.
It sure doesn’t help when her shop is robbed and searched, and some of her designs are stolen. It is not the monetary value of the jewels that is bothering her, they were her own creations, and impossible to make again. Real art. And now her siblings put her store back to rights, and deal with the insurance company, while she herself is busy creating the necklace.
Owen Walker got wounded badly in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, and is now back in America, working for Archer Donovan, doing odd jobs. Archer now asks him to look after his sister Faith, and keeping her and the rubies safe. He will ensure the ruby necklace for Faith, if Walker will guard it. Walker doesn’t find it a hardship at all, ever since he first saw Faith 19 months ago, he has been attracted to her. But as a lowly Southerner, without any formal education, he thinks he is no match for her. And besides, ever since his brother Lot was killed he doesn’t want the responsibility for another person depending on him ever again.
The trouble doesn’t end with the robbery of the store. Walker convinces Faith to stay in another Inn than the one she has reservations for. The next morning on the news, he learns that the woman who stayed in that same room, due to an unexpected cancellation, was brutally murdered, and the safe of the hotel robbed. Someone really wants those rubies.
When they leave the exhibition for a lunchbreak, the safe where they pretended to leave the rubies is robbed, and some mugger wants Faith’s handbag when they leave the restaurant they had lunch. Faith still thinks it is all some big coincidence, but Walker knows better. The tug that tried to rob Faith, and held a knife to her throat, was mafia.
When later on they are invited to come to Ruby Bayou for the wedding early, Faith happily accepts. Walker is less happy with it, he would prefer to see both Faith and the jewels back home in Seattle, with her family around her. But Faith doesn’t want to hear it, she has promised Mel she be at her wedding, and so she will be.
But once they reach Ruby Bayou and the Montegeaus family home, danger sure hasn’t passed. They are followed by some FBI agents, but the real trouble is inside the house. Mr. Montegeau senior has gotten into trouble way over his head, and to safe his own skin, he has put Faith in danger …
Faith doesn’t know that Walker is also some kind of bodyguard for her, and somehow they change from friends into lovers, and she finally finds out what sex is all about. Tony blamed her for not being ready for him or hot enough or whatever, but with Walker, there are no difficulties at all. So when she thinks it is only part of his job, to stay close to her, she is really hurt. Of course, she knew in advance he is not into the relationship for the long haul, he doesn’t want to get leg-shackled or something, he doesn’t want the responsibility. But still.
Another great romantic suspense novel by Elizabeth Lowell. I keep hoping she will write more books in this series, there are after all, two more Donovan brothers on the loose in the world. But I don’t think that will happen anymore, just like the book about Erik, from the @ series. Publishers rights on a series and stuff like that.
I liked Faith from the first time she appears in the series. Walker also plays a secondary role in most of them. Faith is a small woman, especially compared to her large father and brothers, and has a tight bond with her twin sister Hope. So when Hope found Jake and got married, that bond changed, and she longs for a man of her own. She though she had found that man in Tony, who was just as big and loud as her brothers, but so very different where it counts. He is abusive and jealous and controlling, and he can’t stand it that she ended the relationship. He had his eyes on the Donovan money all along. She has lost a lot of her believe in herself as a woman, but not as a designer. Until Walker comes a long, and as he is using a cane, he is not as threatening as most other large males. They grow closer, Walker truly admires her gift and her work, and of course her self. Her sense of humor is close to his own, and they get along very well. I do think her very naïve of not connecting the dots to everything that has happened, but she is still very trusting of people, although she certainly is not stupid.
And then Walker, who keeps blaming himself for the death of his dare-devil younger brother, who always trusted on Walker to get him out of the fire he got himself into. Until that last time, and his brother got killed before Walker could rescue him. They had a very hard childhood in the marshes, near Ruby Bayou. His father was an alcoholic, who only worked as a mechanic when he was sober. But he did teach Walker to hunt in the bayou, to put food on their table. One day he left for Texas, and never came back. His mothers new boyfriend was also an alcoholic, who abused both her as well as her boys. Until the day Walker beat him, and his mother put the both of them on the bus to Texas. She choose for her lover instead of her sons. And that lesson Walker also never forgot. It took a while to find his father, who was working as a mechanic on a small airfield. Walker soon learned the same stuff, and some friendly pilots taught him how to fly. He was a natural, and he loved flying. He took a lot of odd jobs, to support himself, his drunken father and his little brother. Until he got the attention of Archer Donovan and became part of the family.
He doubts himself so much, but he cannot fight the attraction to Faith for long. And when she agrees to just an affair, no strings attached, he doesn’t know why he is disappointed.
Walker and Faith are so great together, they share the same strange sense of humor, and their bantering sure makes me laugh a few times. And the lovescenes, wow. Not too many, but really good ones, fitting the storyline.
The suspense was a great story as well. In the previous books, the Chinese are the power to reckon with, here it are the Russians. Along with the rubies Faith has gotten for the necklace, a very large and famous stone was stolen. And they need it back and fast, for the new wing in the Hermitage, or heads will fall. So both the Russian as the American mafia are after the ruby, and they all think Faith knows where it is …
Of course, there is a lot of lure and knowledge about rubies in this book. I like that kind of detail, and it never got too much or boring. I would have liked a picture of the necklace that was designed by Faith on the cover instead of this lovely one of the bayou at midnight. If Elizabeth Lowell’s description would be made, it certainly would be very lovely.