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Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell

William Morrow, June 2000.
Hardcover, 386 pages.
ISBN: 0380974053.
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Midnight in Ruby Bayou
by Elizabeth Lowell Faith Donovan has learned the hard way not to get too close to a man; her last boyfriend was a real jerk. Her protective brothers only grudgingly have agreed not to beat the loser to a pulp, and since the breakup Faith has buried herself in her work as a highly-regarded jewelry designer. But in order to travel to New Orleans with a fortune in rubies for a custom necklace she created, her insurer (her brother Archer, of the famed Donovan International) requires her to work with a bodyguard: the handsome and resourceful Owen Walker. Faith and Owen head to Savannah for a big jewelry show before traveling to see the prominent Montegeau family and deliver the wedding necklace, which is a present for Faith's friend who is marrying into the family. But everyone from the Russian mob to the FBI seems very interested in Faith and the rubies, and someone is clearly willing to see Faith murdered in order to get the priceless jewels. Even more danger awaits at the Montegeaus' historic family home, Ruby Bayou, which is full of long-buried secrets. One of the legends is that of the missing Blessing Chest, which is supposedly full of priceless jewels. Owen has his hands full with this assignment, and to make things more complicated, he finds himself falling head over heels for Faith. But can Faith ever learn to trust another man after her last disastrous experience?

This sexy and suspenseful thriller from Elizabeth Lowell is the latest entry in her popular Donovan series, after Amber Beach, Pearl Cove, and Jade Island. Lowell is a master at capturing the feel and flavor of a place, in this case the Deep South. The Donovan family is as fascinating as ever, and Faith and Owen's story is moving, and quite funny at times. With enough ardor to burn up the pages, vivid emotions and gripping suspense, don't be surprised if you pull an all-nighter with this one. Highly recommended.

A Secret Love by Stephanie Laurens

Avon, July 2000.
Paperback, 384 pages.
ISBN: 0380805707.
Ordering information:

A Secret Love
by Stephanie Laurens Lady Alathea Morwellan has a big problem. She has just discovered that her father was duped into a fraudulent scheme which could result in the loss of her family's home and fortune, if the crooks are not found in time. But the only man Alathea knows that is qualified to undertake such a discreet investigation is Rupert "Gabriel" Cynster, whom she has known for all her life. But Gabriel and Alathea fight like cats and dogs whenever they are in the same room with each other. So Alathea dresses as a veiled, mysterious countess and begs Gabriel's help. Intrigued, he agrees, in exchange for a kiss for each bit of information he brings her. The two are drawn to each other, and Alathea gives in to Gabriel's passionate kisses. But what is going to happen when he discovers that his new mistress is a respectable childhood friend whom he has vowed never to go near? After all, that might mean the despised Marriage Vows, something no Cynster male ever wants to take.

This is the fifth in Stephanie Laurens popular Bar Cynster series. Gabriel has always been known as the most hardened bachelor of the Cynster males, but this time he meets his downfall -- and it's immensely entertaining to watch. The story is a sensual one, and the plot works perfectly because of the fact that Gabriel and Alathea know each other so well (although Gabriel doesn't realize that for a while.) The Bar Cynster series is simply excellent, and Gabriel's story is no exception.

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