by Ann Maxwell

May 1999
ISBN: 0-06-104269-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Harper Books
Mass Market Paperback

There has been considerable discussion amongst reviewers about the definition of a romance novel, especially in regards to how much mystery/suspense there can be without obscuring the romance. Linda Howard manages the balance superbly, as do Jayne Anne Krentz and Elizabeth Lowell. I wondered if perhaps Ms. Lowell, when writing as Ann Maxwell, might be on the “other” side of the romance definition, but this book has proved me wrong.

Laurel Swann, jewelry designer, is stunned to receive what appears to be a Faberge Imperial Egg in the mail – she has to assume it’s from her dissolute and mostly absent father. Cruz Rowan, agent of Risk, Ltd., an international organization that operates on its own agenda, is sent to locate the egg, and traces it to Laurel’s home. Not realizing that her father is up to his disreputable neck in governmental double-crosses, Laurel does her best to protect him, while fighting a major case of yearning for this strange silver-eyed man who is ready to take a bullet for her while trying to persuade her to reveal all she knows!

The plot in this novel is as good and as complex as any I’ve come across lately, with fascinating secondary characters, villains who are as bad as they come, and double-triple-crosses enough to make your head spin! And as if that wasn’t enough, Laurel and Cruz are falling in love! Rapidly, painfully, sensually, the fire builds between these two in a way that only Elizabeth Lowell can create – whatever name she chooses to write under.

If it is true that a romance novel wouldn’t exist without the romance, then this is definitely a romance novel, because in spite of a splendid story, it is the relationship between Laurel and Cruz that cements this story into place, and makes it the spellbinding page turner I found it to be. If you liked Ms. Lowell’s “Donovan” series, then try Ann Maxwell’s The Ruby – all the similar elements are in place and it’s a cracklingly good read!!

Reviewed in July 2002 by Celia.

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