Series: The London Jewels #1
Author: Jane Feather
Length: 272 pages
Publication Date: January 29,
Three friends who met at an elite English boarding school take on the town—and the ton—one by one, in this sparkling new series about love, loss, and lustrous gemstones, from New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather...
A FINE ROMANCE…
Diana Sommerville seems to have it all—beauty, brains, and vast wealth, thanks to her family's ownership of a diamond mine abroad. But when her beloved brother dies in battle and leaves a lion's share of his estate to his best friend, Diana finds herself in a situation that seems scripted for the stage: Sharing her family home with the man she used to love—and now loathes. Worse, her unfaithful former fiancé has already moved in.
OR AN EXCELLENT FAKE?
Rupert Lacey didn't expect Diana to take the news without a fight. Still, he didn't expect her to bring the battle directly to their newly shared doorstep—complete with a full set of trunks, and a full set of orders to the staff. Yet there she is, bold, regal...magnificent as ever. Now they would face a formidable challenge: to ignore each other—and the unanswered questions that stood between them. The only sure thing is their still blazing desire. But with a woman like Diana, it will take nothing less than a momentous misunderstanding, a missing prized mare, and a shocking revelation to restore a love that hasn't lost its shine.
Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from...
Tempt Me With Diamonds
Chapter OneLondon, August 1902Rupert Lacey, as was his habit, moved from sleep to wakefulness in a matter of seconds. He opened his eyes abruptly, aware of a faint gray light of dawn showing between a gap in the curtains and the unmistakable sense that something was happening in the house. There was nothing specific to give him this feeling, no particular sound, just a stirring of the air, a sense of motion. He sat up, reaching for the bell pull on the wall beside him. It was answered within minutes. Davis, his batman, came into the bedroom carrying a tea tray. “Good morning, Colonel.”He set the tray by the bed and went to draw back the curtains. “Seems we have a visitor, sir,”Davis continued, imperturbable as always. “Miss Sommerville arrived a short while ago…. with her household, it appears.”“Oh, did she, indeed?”Rupert took a fortifying gulp of the strong morning brew that his years in South Africa had made a morning necessity, swung his long legs out of bed and rose to his feet. He slept naked as always, another habit acquired during the hot African summer nights. He stood for a moment, holding his teacup with one hand, stroking his chin with the other. Then he drained his cup and said briskly. “Pass me my dressing gown, Davis?”He would have preferred to greet Diana fully dressed but there was no time now for such niceties. He had wondered how she was going to react, and when. He had expected her to bring the fight to him one way or another. Diana had never been able to resist a challenge or a battle of wills. But what if her arrival had nothing to do with the will? What if she didn’t know about the will as yet? Dear God, he hoped that she did. Either way, all hell was about to break loose. He shrugged into the robe Davis held for him and made for the door, tying the belt securely. He stepped out onto the wide gallery that ran along either side of the horseshoe staircase that rose from the marble-floored hall of the elegant Cavendish Square mansion. He hung back in the shadows for a moment looking down into the hall at the invasion below. Steamer trunks and hat boxes were piled high and in the midst of them Diana Sommerville stood, stripping off her gloves, issuing crisp orders to two servants. On either side of her sat a magnificent South African Ridgeback, the original lion hunters. They appeared placid enough, gazing around them with their sharp intelligent eyes, their long sleekly muscled bodies poised for instant movement. “Barlow, would you organize the library and yellow parlor for my immediate use. I doubt we’ll have callers for a few days, but just in case we should have the drawing room fit for visitors as soon as possible. Mrs. Harris, would you go to the kitchen and create order there? I expect it will take some work to put the house to rights again.”A dazzling, conspiratorial smile accompanied her words and two retainers returned the smile with understanding nods. “I’ll have it all back to normal in no time, ma’am,”Mrs. Harris declared. “I daresay the Trimballs have done their best to keep the house in good shape but…”She gave an eloquent shrug. Caretakers could not be expected to keep an empty house up to snuff. “Come Izzy, I shall need your help, if Mr. Barlow can do without you for the moment.”She swept away in her black bombazine dress, a small parlor maid trotting at her heels. Rupert hadn’t known how he would react when he saw her again, but now he knew that nothing had changed. He had wanted to punish her for the hurt and disappointment she had inflicted upon him, but all he could see now was that Diana was as wonderful as ever and he responded as ever to the imperious, arrogant set of her small head, the richly luxuriant coffee colored hair curled fashionably into a fat chignon at the nape of her long neck, the tall, slender frame that seemed to throb with energy, the pleats in her rich silk skirt moved gently hinting at the restlessness of the long legs beneath. Such wonderful legs. For a moment he was distracted by a memory of her naked body hovering above him, her legs scissoring his thighs. He stepped forward out of the shadows. “Good morning, Diana.”He rested his elbows on the gilded railing as he looked down. Diana Sommerville’s head jerked upwards. She stared at the figure standing on the galleried landing. “You? What in the devil’s name are you doing in my house?”Her eyes were purple fire, her complexion ashen as she stared in bewildered fury at the man she had hoped never to encounter again. He was wearing a brocade dressing gown, the tie accentuating the slim waist, and his copper curls fell in that familiar unruly tangle onto his brow. He had just got out of bed. In her house. It made no sense. He couldn’t possibly be here, the man she had sworn never to speak to again. And yet he was. Just as if time had slipped and it was as it always had been in the days when Rupert Lacey was as welcome on Sommerville property as the Sommerville children themselves. “Get out,”she demanded. “Now.”But to her frustrated bewilderment she could hear the futility of the demand. She was no physical match for him and if he wouldn’t go she couldn’t wrestle him out of the door. But why was he here? Rupert cursed silently. So she didn’t know what had happened. Now how the hell was he to handle this? “I said get out of my house,”Diana repeated, ignoring the sense of futility even as she wondered why he wasn’t saying anything. If anything he looked vaguely discomfitted, not an expression she would ordinarily associate with Colonel Lacey. “I have no idea how you got in, or why you’re here, but you are trespassing.”Rupert sighed. Explaining this situation to Diana in full combat mode was not something he wanted to do. “As it happens, Diana, I am not trespassing. I assume you have not yet visited Muldoon?”“Muldoon? The solicitor?”She looked even more bemused. “What has he to do with your breaking and entering my house?”“A great deal as it happens,”he said drily, beginning to descend the stairs. “Not that I did either of those things.”The two dogs, who had been sitting alert but quiet at Diana’s heels, growled in unison, a deep and threatening sound. Rupert blinked in suprise. He and the dogs were old friends. Nevertheless he took a step back to the gallery. Diana’s hostility was enough to provoke their instincts to defend her even against someone they had known since they were puppies. Diana laid a hand on each dog’s head, saying softly, “Hera, Hercules.”They subsided, but their eyes never left Rupert and the muscles rippled beneath their sleek coats, their long bodies still very much on the alert. Rupert decided to take the coward’s way out and let a professional handle the situation. Sometimes discretion was indeed the better part of valor. “When did you arrive in England, Diana?”“Yesterday evening as it happens. But I fail to see what that has to do with your illegal presence in my house.”Her eyes challenged him in a way that was achingly familiar, but he resisted his usual response to meet and match the challenge. This was neither the time nor the occasion for the old ways. There’d be opportunity enough later, he was sure of it. “Muldoon will explain it to you, Diana. I suggest you visit him at once. I know you won’t listen to me, but you will listen to him.”Diana turned away from him, her gaze sweeping the mountain of luggage as if somehow its very presence could make sense of this impossible, unbelievable situation. Her butler and personal maid were trying not to look fascinated by the scene being played out in front of them. They had known Colonel Lacey since he was a lad at boarding school with a penchant for mischievous adventures. And they knew the present state of affairs between Miss Sommerville, and the colonel. Diana made up her mind. She couldn’t unravel this craziness alone, and if Muldoon could offer some kind of explanation then she needed to hear it at once. She hated to leave the house with Rupert still in possession, but it seemed the only way, since he clearly had no intention of going anywhere. “Barlow, would you see if the hackney is still outside?”The butler bowed and hurried to the still open door. Two hackney carriages stood at the door. Both drivers were wrestling with the last few pieces of baggage fastened on the roofs. “Still here, Miss Diana. Still unloading.”He stepped aside as one of the men staggered past with a heavy steamer trunk, setting it down with a sigh of relief. “Then please tell one of the cabbies I need to be taken to Chancery Lane.”“Right, ma’am.”He turned back to the still open front door and sent a piercing whistle through the early morning air. “One of you needs to take Miss Sommerville on to Chancery Lane.”“Should I accompany you, Miss Diana?”asked a thin, angular woman, who had been standing to one side, her sharp gaze moving between her mistress and the man on the gallery as if she were watching a tennis match. “No thank you, Agnes,”Diana replied, She didn’t need a chaperone and her personal maid had better things to do in the next hour. Resolutely she kept her back to Rupert, as if by ignoring him she could convince herself he wasn’t there. “Would you see to the unpacking. I’d like to settle in as soon as possible.”“Indeed, ma’am. Izzie can help me once Mrs Harris doesn’t need her.”Diana nodded, drawing on her gloves again. She felt very strange, disoriented, bewildered, and not really in control of anything, however much she tried to give an impression of impeturbable command. Muldoon, the family solicitor, would restore that control. He’d make damn sure Rupert Lacey left her house in short order. “The cabbie’s ready, ma’am.”“Thank you, Barlow.”She inhaled deeply and walked to the open door, her head high, back straight, telling herself that she was not leaving Rupert in possession of the field. When she returned she would come armed. Chapter Two Half an hour later Diana stepped out of the hackney carriage on Chancery Lane and stood for a moment savoring the soft warmth of the English summer morning as she gathered her thoughts. It was still early, barely nine o’clock, but she had been so anxious to get installed in Cavendish Square that she’d left Brown’s Hotel, where she’d spent the previous night after her arrival on the White Star liner from South Africa, at soon after seven thirty. It had been the beginning of the South African winter when she’d left Cape Town for the month long voyage home, the dawn mornings bitter when she’d ridden out to watch Kimberley Diamond training on the race track. The cold air had seemed to suit the race horse. How would the filly respond to her new home in
Diana and Rupert's relationship has been a relationship since she was an awkward, coltish, girl. And he, the older brotherly best friend to her brother Jem.
As time passes and feelings evolve as they are want to do. Diana and Rupart's love develops and grows until the two become a couple, and are engaged.
At least until the fateful day on the banks of the Orange River. When she confronted him with rumors of a mistress and possible child.
But far from the explanation that she had hoped for. She received only a quiet shrug of resignation, marking the end of their engagement. The dissolution of their joined future. Leaving each to proceed...alone.
Diana is freshly back in London after both the deaths of her beloved father and brother in South Africa.
Longing for the familiarity of her family home.
Imagine her surprise when she enters said home. Only to encounter the one man she had never hoped to see again.
For his part...
Rupart it seems has never managed to clear either his head or his heart of the loss of Diana. Even as he managed to maintain his friendship with her brother Jem. Going so far as to join him in battle in service to the English crown.
Only to lose his best friend in battle.
But gaining control of all of Jem's interest in family lands, money, mines, and most importantly the family home.
Ding...Ding...Let the fight begin!
It is very clear from the time that these two lock eyes in the front entryway of the house that they now share that there are definitely going to be fireworks.
What remains to be seen however is just who manages to get burned in the process.
Despite the fact that the three ladies and their friendship stands as the overall premise of the series as a whole. Petra and Fenella serve as little more than window-dressing for the few exploits that Diana has that attempt to give her some time away from the seemingly omnipresent Colonial Lacy.
It is more than clear that this story is going to be about Diana and Rupert. And their almost obsessive need to drive both themselves and the reader absolutely batshit crazy by the end of this book. By taking every opportunity they can to rip each other's clothes off, and go at it like wildebeests before returning civilly to their respective corners to fight another day
These two spend more time chasing, mad, missing, and making up with each other then the law should allow.
For two people who can't seem to find a common ground outside of the bedroom. They seem to have no problem doing so when behind closed doors.
Even though the sex scenes are far less explicit than most. They are most obviously no less passionate.
As if dealing with the couple's hot and cold relationship shenanigans doesn't give readers enough to do.
Just when you think that the two have finally laid down their arms in the name of love.
Questions arise about whether or not Rupert was really with Jem when he died in battle. As he claimed.
And when confronted with said question by Diana.
What does Rupert do?
You guessed it!
Turn rail and run to his childhood home; with Diana hot on his heels.
And a heartbreaking "aha moment" waiting in the wings.
To which I say.
"Bring on the resolution already."
"This book is running low on pages."
By this time everyone is clearly tuckered out by things. The window dressing has long since left the situation. And we are down to about somewhere around 85% done with this thing.
Leading one to conclude the following...
Love, war, riches, romance, recriminations, and redemption are the names of this story's game.
But be forewarned.
Though this book may contain only half the pages of its contemporaries. The tale therein packs quite the emotional and dramatic combination.
Never hesitating to leave one reeling while begging for more.
Thanks to Zebra Books and NetGalley for providing the review copy on which my honest critique is based.
In 1984, Feather published 5 contemporary romances under the pseudonym, Claudia Bishop. She has published historical romance as Jane Feather, her own name, since 1986. There are over 10 million copies of her books in print.
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