Midnight In Ruby Bayou
by Elizabeth Lowell, contemporary (2001)
Avon, $7.50, ISBN 0-380-78989-2

Rubies, action in exotic locales (for non St Petersburgians, that is), action, jewel heists - Midnight In Ruby Bayou has the "cool, exciting action" part down pat. What's more fun than a rugged adventurer (Owen Walker) and a cool, sophisticated ruby-crafting jewelry expert (Faith Donovan) breaking international gem smuggling/black marketeering syndicates? Well, more sex and romance will be nice, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

As it happens, it all started with a theft of some Russian gems. A particularly valuable ruby may or may not have fallen into Faith Donovan's hands, and the bad guys are determined to be sure and get it back. Lucky for her, her brother Archer has Owen bodyguarding over her. Can anyone say "Ready, Action!"?

Elizabeth Lowell has no problems hooking me into her suspense. The bad guys are a bit cartoonish, but Faith and Owen more than acquit themselves as they think, puzzle, and try to figure out what is going on. But as a romance, Midnight In Ruby Bayou stumbles. Faith and Owen get the brightest gleam in their eyes not when they are looking at each other, but when they are explaining about ruby craftmanship. I could swear Owen would get an orgasm on the spot as he explains about "ruby cooking" to his enraptured listeners. As a couple, Faith and Owen generate as much spark and chemistry as, well, ruby and water.

You know what could have made the otherwise very readable MIRB better? Hot sex. Lots of hot sex. No, make that lots of hot sex involving creative usage of rubies, pearls, and other thingies. Now that will be one fine read, I say.

Rating: 85

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