The adventurous romance of Gabriella Martinez and Richard Harrison continues in Alonso-Sierra’s follow-up to The Coin (2014).
Talented and lovely Gabriella has illustrated a medieval manuscript, The Book of Hours, scheduled for auction at Christie’s in London. The book’s artistry attracts vile Arnold Wickeham, who hopes to coerce Gabriella to sell it to him pre-auction for 250,000 pounds. Meanwhile, Gabriella’s personal life is in turmoil. She’s in love with Richard Harrison, an American intelligence operative who once saved her life; at the time, Gabriella had been reluctant to end the relationship with her husband, Roberto. After a ghastly car accident involving a sanitation truck, comatose Roberto is on life support, jeopardizing the future of his company. Roberto’s affections also wavered; he was en route to meet his lover when the mishap occurred, on the same day Gabriella finally asked for a divorce. As Wickeham’s threats against Gabriella mount, Richard returns to her side. There’s no denying their mutual attraction or that her son, Luisito, looks like him. As the auction date approaches, Wickeham will stop at nothing—including brake tampering, kidnapping, and torture—to secure The Book of Hours. Still, Gabriella adamantly refuses to give in. Elsewhere, scheming April Cranfield, who wants Richard back in her bed, plans to entrap him and bear his child. Sierra’s novel is a lively mix of adventure, drama, and an affecting romantic reunion, marred by some awkward prose: “Gabriella actually owed Roberto a grateful ‘thanks’ for plopping the overflow drop into the bucket of her restraint.” At times, the story feels like an episode of daytime drama, with a wicked but not very bright villain squaring off against a man and a woman heroically determined and cued for rescue. The biggest stumbling block is the premise: it’s obvious Wickeham is behind the threats against Gabriella. He might have used his quarter-million pounds to hire a thief and walk quietly away with the manuscript.
Entertaining over-the-top melodrama, with a nonsensical plot pitting an appealing pair of lovers against a dastardly villain.