Romantic caper, with just a smidgen of edge, ROUGH DIAMOND is the first book in a new Melbourne based series built around a typically untypical pair - Erica Jewell and Jack Jones.
Erica Jewell - recently separated from a husband who left her bank balance and her life in tatters. Working in PR for a major corporation her life is now pretty much devoted to avoiding the ex, paying off his debts, keeping a roof over her head, and deflecting her best friend's attempts at getting her out and about again.
Jack Jones - man of mystery and danger, gorgeous, and seemingly perfect, despite the bullet wound in his shoulder when Erica falls over him in her front garden one rainy Melbourne night. You'd think that in most people's lives getting shot would be a fairly major thing, but Jones seems to have other things on his mind. And a seemingly never ending supply of cash, fancy cars, minders and a very big beautiful house.
They soon find themselves on the same side, in a secret and private organisation set up by a not very mysterious benefactor to fight the threat of big plot terrorism. Which, in this case, involves the theft of a truckload of fertiliser, the Bolte Bridge and the Melbourne Cup.
Styled very much in the way of most romantic comedy caper novel these days, there's a good dose of what readers might expect. He's gorgeous, she's a bit clumsy, he's clever and richer than Croesus, she's more attractive than she thinks she is. She's also brave, up for a challenge, and he's cautious and extremely resourceful. She's a bit slow on the uptake on some things, and quick as a whip on others. Is there a romantic attraction between these two or is it just the pressure of everyone else trying to kill them? And, of course, there is the madcap pet, in this case Axle the kitten who goes from dead sleep to whirlwind in the length of a cat's whisker. In ROUGH DIAMOND, it all does seem to work. Which I must admit was a bit of a surprise. Perhaps it's because it is light-hearted and funny and you can't help but wonder just a little about a tongue placed firmly in cheek. It doesn't hurt that the threat, as you'd expect, is big and faceless, and the power behind the plot to save the world (well Melbourne anyway) is mysterious and much closer to home than even Jewell could have guessed. It also doesn't hurt that there are points at which I was laughing a lot.
Of course, there may have to be some filing away of disbelief, but who cares when you're having fun and frankly the pace rips along very well, keeping the reader engaged even though it does get dangerously close to a tiny bit mad more than once.
For this reader there is also a lot about the ending that appealed enormously, although I suspect I can hear the sound of some reader's teeth grinding, particularly if you're the type that likes everything wrapped up neat and tidy. It seems this is the first book in an ongoing series, and really why not. It's fun, it's local and it's entertaining.