Treasures Of The Heart
by Jacquelin Thomas, contemporary (2003)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-348-3

Some authors really shouldn't try writing romantic suspense stories if they are going to come up with bewildering police protocols and stupid behavior from the main characters. Jacquelin Thomas' Treasures Of The Heart requires convincing characterization and police procedurals to work, but the author seems to be blissfully oblivious to how real crimes are handled by the police in this book.

It all started when Kemba Jennings let herself be hired as Malcolm Avery's interior decorator so that she can sneak inside and steal Malcolm's diamond. The Dumisani diamond is actually a legacy bequeathed to the men in Kemba's family to protect always, and with the diamond missing and her father dead, Kemba feels that it is her duty to steal it. And halfway through her act, she whines about how she could betray Malcolm this way. Ugh. Halfway through her B&E stunt, she hears Malcolm held at gunpoint by some unknown intruder and this intruder wants the diamond too! Oh no. In the meantime, Malcolm's daughter Crystal flees the intruder and Kemba takes this daughter and together they flee the house to seek refuge with Malcolm's brother, Eric.

Upon learning that his brother is shot and right now bleeding to death on the floor from Crystal, Eric's logical action is to waste time suspecting Kemba of doing fishy things in the study at night. After who knows how long they talk and Kemba keeps digging herself deeper and deeper into her grave (honorable heroines can't lie, you see, they just do idiotic things), finally he decides to go see to Malcolm. And it cracks me up that while he doesn't trust Kemba, he doesn't check to see whether she's telling the truth about having called the police. Unsurprisingly, Malcolm is very dead when Eric drops by the man's house.

Because the police doesn't follow up on murder cases involving a diamond, Kemba stupidly moves around without taking any precautions, drawing the intruder straight right to her. Kemba also passes the diamond to Eric, all the while moaning about how it is her responsibility to protect the diamond. Never mind, now she decides that she will fly to Africa and seek out the diamond mine herself! I wonder how she will do this when she can't even handle B&E, but that's Kemba for you. And of course, the police doesn't care when Eric and Kemba fly off to Africa to look for this diamond mine. These two are only witnesses and suspects in a murder case involving a diamond worth millions of dollars - nah, who cares, let's see what Dunkin Donuts have for sale at lunchtime!

The story becomes marginally better in Africa because at least then there is some unintentional comedy in the main characters as well as the villains behaving stupid. It's like watching a Road Runner cartoon. Ms Thomas seems more interested in preaching about the glory of Mother Africa instead of developing her characters or their relationship. Eric loves Kemba because she is beautiful and she loves him because he is hunky and there's very little else to their relationship. Treasures Of The Heart coming off like a book that is plotted according to the author's mood and whimsy without any concession to present-day reality.

Since Jacquelin Thomas is a lead author and she also writes inspirational romances with some published in hardcover, she must have a wide audience for her books. But with every book of hers that I read, she seems to become progressively worse. Not only is Treasures Of The Heart muddled and filled with implausibilities, the writing is dry and stilted and the conversations come off like speeches from someone on the soapbox. Even if I take into consideration how the overall editing and writing quality of the Arabesque line seems to be detoriating month by month, this amateurish and ill-plotted book is still shockingly bad, especially for an author of Ms Thomas' status. Let's just hope that the rot is stopped by the time the next book comes out.

Rating: 46

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