Beautiful Dreamer

Eden Burning

Jade Island

Midnight at Ruby Bayou

Moving Target

Pearl Cove

To the Ends of the Earth

Die In Plain Sight
by Elizabeth Lowell
(Morrow, $24.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-050412-9
Written in the Sidney Sheldon style, this is a fast-paced, intriguing novel by a romance favorite. I have two warnings for you: 1. This is a hard back and therefore premium price. It is a great story but .... 2. Although there is a nice romance between the two main characters, this is really more of a suspense thriller and less of a contemporary romance.

Lacey Quinn is a painter and the co-owner of a nice little shop entitled Lost Treasures Found. She and her friend specialize in selling used items, some of which have monetary value. Lacey inherited her talent for painting from her grandfather, David Quinn. In fact, he taught her and helped pay her way to college. He died, apparently wandering off in the desert and never returning. He has left her a storage building full of his paintings, all unsigned. She is determined to have them appraised and gain the recognition for him she thinks he deserves.

Lacey takes them to an art auction/appraisal session with the great painter Susa Donovan. She uses a fake name, because her father is against her idea and is fearful that there will be trouble. He refuses to share details, but tells Lacey to let sleeping dogs lie.

Here Lacey meets the man with whom she will eventually fall in love, Ian Lapstrake. Ian is a member of Rarities Unlimited, a company that secures great art and protects antiquities. As a favor to his boss, he is at this auction on bodyguard duty for Susa and her paintings.

Ian’s background is military, then police force. He is smart and wary. Ian is instantly attracted to Lacey, whom he met briefly in her shop. Now she is at the auction using a fictitious name, and the paintings she brings intrigue Susa as none of the other amateur paintings do. Susa thinks this painter may have been the great Lewis Marten, a man who died in a fire that also destroyed most of his work.

The day after the paintings are seen, strange things start to happen. Lacey’s building is nearly burned to the ground. Susa’s hotel room is broken into and paintings are stolen. Ian receives a death threat to tell Lacey to forget David Quinn. There is much to this story with a host of possible suspects and scenarios.

For fear of giving away too much, I will just say that I was glued to the story and changed my mind as the story developed, wavering as to who I suspected and what I thought the final outcome would be. I was close, but the twists and turns are cleverly written and kept me guessing until the end.

The romance between Lacey and Ian is fun, energetic and sexually hot. There are several great sex scenes and a few are explicit. Ian is a great hero. He is sensual, strong, gentle and smart. He allows Lacey room to be herself and helps her understand who he is. Lacey is stubborn and yet flexible. She allows herself to trust Ian, making their relationship stronger. The love they grow to feel did warm the heart.

The many suspects are seen as people, and although ultimately I shuddered over some of their actions, they were shown as multi-dimensional characters with feelings too. There is a dysfunctional family of Savoy-Forrests who shed light on the phrase “money does not always buy happiness.” There is the sheriff of Moreno County, who also happens to be the ex of one of the Forrests. The gallery owners and hotel employees are also written as more than just props. As some point, I suspected everyone!

I heartily recommend this novel, and will keep it to revisit some night when I want a taut mystery. But for those looking for a great Lowell romance, although satisfactory, Die In Plain Sight will not quench your thirst.

--Shirley Lyons

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