I first heard of Christina C. Jones when she wrote a guest post for Quanie Miller’s blog on Five Ways To Build Your Author Platform. I nodded agreeably to all her advice, then did a double-take when I came to the Author Profile at the end and read that she’d written nine books since 2013. I immediately raced over to Amazon to read an extract from her latest novel at the time, the romantic suspense story Catch Me If You Can. I swiftly confirmed that she was not only a prolific writer but also a highly talented one.
A set of twin babies wind up in a South African orphanage after their parents are killed. Lola is strong and beautiful and quickly adopted by a famous American actress. Grace is sickly and expected to die. She survives and is eventually adopted by an abusive church pastor and taken to live in England.
The sisters grow into women as different as their new homes, Lola follows the Lindsay Lohan Guide to Celebrity Living, dating all the wrong guys, drinking like a fish and stumbling through one scandal after another. Grace is overweight, timorous and unlucky in love. What will happen when their worlds collide? Will they find love and happiness? And, can they survive the secrets of their past?
While reading the first few chapters of Black Diamond I found myself doing that yelling-at-the-TV thing. Both Grace and Lola start out naïve, immature, manipulated by the people in their worlds. They learn every lesson the hard way (despite my yelled warnings) and it’s tough to watch them trusting and losing again and again.
The book had me hooked from the beginning. But a third of the way through it really hit its stride, that’s when I found myself picking up the e-reader to read a couple of pages and losing consecutive hours at a time. I don’t want to spoil the plot but this book would put any daytime soap opera to shame with the amount of sex, scandal and back-stabbing betrayal it packs in.
Havana has a great way with plot. The pace never falters, it simply switches up from ‘fast’ to ‘faster’. The characters are well drawn, and engaging (especially Nico. OMG. The guy is hot as Tabasco sauce in a kiln). The settings are vivid and glamorously varied and the writing is always engaging.
But Black Diamond is more than a sexy, galloping plot, it’s given depth by its meditations on identity and love and authentic living. I can’t recommend it highly enough.