Rough Diamond

Cassandra Dean
Rough Diamond
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Decadent Publishing
Release Date
September 2012
Book 1 of The Diamond Series
Erotic Romance, Historical Romance, Western Romance

Owner of the Diamond Saloon and Theater, Alice Reynolds is astounded when a fancy Englishman offers to buy her saloon. She won't be selling her saloon to anyone, let alone a man with a pretty, empty-headed grin…but then, she reckons that grin just might be a lie, and a man of intelligence and cunning resides beneath.

Rupert Llewellyn has another purpose for offering to buy the pretty widow's saloon—the coal buried deep in land she owns. However, he never banked on her knowing eyes making him weak at the knees, or how his deception would burn upon his soul.

Each determined to outwit the other, they tantalize and tease until passion explodes. But can their desire bridge the lies told and trust broken?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jun 19, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
292 people found the following review helpful
As always, Cassandra Dean has produced a smart, creative romance with a fully immersive setting and well-drawn characters. Though perhaps not my favorite of her stories to date, fans and new readers alike will find a lot to enjoy in the Diamond series debut.

Alice Reynolds followed her husband from Chicago to Freewill, Wyoming, determined to make the best of her new life. Now a widow, and sole owner of the Diamond Saloon and Theater, Alice works every day to ensure that her establishment is the most impressive in Freewill. So when a dandified English gentleman comes in, offering to buy her saloon right out from under her, Alice is furious--and alarmed. Because beneath his foppish exterior, she can see that this British stranger is hiding a razor-sharp intellect and determination enough to make him a formidable adversary.

Rupert Llewellyn was sent to convince Alice to sell, but his goal is not the saloon. His bosses want the land beneath it. Because the truth of the matter is that Alice is sitting on a seam of coal that will make a number of men very rich indeed. But in the course of his lifetime of lies and cunning, Rupert has never met a woman who gets under his skin in the same way that Alice does. Nor has he ever questioned the morality of his cons, until he gets to know the fearless, enigmatic owner of the Diamond.

Locked in a battle of wills, both Alice and Rupert find themselves slowly succumbing to a passion they can neither understand nor ignore. But can a relationship built on lies survive when the truth comes crashing down around them?

I always have a hard time with romance plots that involve characters lying to each other, in part because the honesty between protagonists, in all its forms, is what makes romances so compelling. It also bothered me that, for a large part of this story, Rupert's lies seemed more important to him than Alice. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that Cassandra Dean made the lies feel necessary, and she did a wonderful job conveying Rupert's conflicts and the events in his past that made his deceptions such a necessity to him. He was sympathetic in a way I hadn't expected, and I found, by the book's end, that I had fallen for him, as well.

Alice is a wonderfully multi-faceted heroine--strong, but vulnerable, especially in matters concerning the loss of her husband; brave and fearless, but very conscious of the dangers of living in a settler town. I was impressed with how well her peculiar relationship with the town of Freewill was described. She is a woman that everyone respects, but whom no one will speak to in public. When Rupert first offered her his arm to walk down the street, the moment was a truly compelling surprise.

I also enjoyed the descriptions of Freewill and its inhabitants. From her position at the Diamond, Alice has the chance to observe a number of the town's citizens and offers the reader a unique glimpse into her world. This is a story whose setting is as important as the living characters, and I loved exploring this historic world and would love the chance to return.

The connection between Alice and Rupert unfolds in a way that keeps them, and the reader, on their toes. I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story, but it took me a while to feel the chemistry the between them. I appreciated the skill of Ms. Dean's storytelling, but this story didn't capture me in the same way many of her other books have. I think this might have something to do with the lies that were told and my aversion to that trope, so I encourage other readers to find out for themselves. Cassandra Dean is a consistently unpredictable, rewarding writer, and the Diamond series is definitely a series that fans will appreciate.
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