After decades in the spotlight as an Oscar-winning film star and famous beauty, Vivienne Winter is one of the most recognizable women on the planet. When she decides to auction her multimillion dollar jewellery collection for charity, there's no shortage of people eager to buy a piece of her incredible history.
Young, ambitious Christine Smith is a jewellery expert working for a centuries-old auction house. But in a world of aristocratic snobs, her working-class origins are holding her back. She's desperate to secure the sale of Vivienne Winter's gem collection: it's set to be the biggest auction since Elizabeth Taylor's. However, meeting the Hollywood star is just the first hurdle Christine has to jump.
Vivienne's handsome, spoilt and sexy playboy grandson Angel is the heir to her fortune. The anger and resentment he feels towards his grandmother for selling what he'd counted on as one day being his inheritance sets in motion a series of events with deadly consequences. Angel is totally unscrupulous, and no one will emerge from his plotting unscathed. For it seems that family secrets cut sharper than diamonds...
Killer Diamonds is the ninth novel from Rebecca Chance but the first I have read from this author. I had just finished the latest novel from Victoria Fox so I was still in the mood for a book many term the bonkbuster so when Killer Diamonds popped through my letterbox I was keen to give this a go as I had heard a lot about the author. The blurb sounded like just the sort of read that would provide you with a gripping story taking you away to a world full of glitz, glamour, wealth, power and not forgetting those killer diamonds which couldn’t be further removed from the world we live in.
The book opens with an explosive prologue which leaves the reader wondering just how has this pivotal scene come about and what will be the outcome? To answer those questions we are taken back in time to Rome 1966 when glamorous film starlet Vivienne Winter is filming in the city and embarking on a passionate affair with Randon Cliffe. Vivienne is no stranger to scandal and has already had a daughter out of wedlock, one who is raised by a continuous succession of nannies. Vivienne craves all forms of attention she is the biggest star in the world and hopes to keep it that way for some time to come. Gossip follows her around but no matter the bad press she always emerges with some form of triumphant publicity. Vivienne has fallen head over heels with Randon and the passion is vividly described from the outset. Theirs is a love which will see two marriages and two divorces and even until the bitter end Randon will always have a place in Vivienne’s heart. He is the man who gifts her the majority of the jewels which form the basis for the plot of this book and scattered throughout the chapters are little anecdotes or stories as to where she was when she received each piece and what film she is working on etc which proved interesting enough to read about. We then read briefly of Seville in 1970 and then Paris in 1990 where an event occurs which will shape the character of Angel, her grandson, forever. If at this stage he wasn’t beginning to become affected by the life his mother Pearl inflicts on him this occurrence will surely make him damaged in the worst way possible.
Then the majority of the story focuses on the more present day when Vivienne is in her 70’s and wanting to auction off her jewellery collection for charity. I say charity more so that she doesn’t want her unscrupulous grandson to get her hands on such a fabulous collection only to blow the money on his hedonistic lifestyle and all its entrappings. Vivienne was a character who maintained her cool at all times you could never crack her tough exterior, she kept everything to herself but boy could she play a game and exert control over others when needed. She realises Angel is the way he is due to his childhood and believes money, but not always having it on tap, will be able to help him. You knew she cared for him but at the same time didn’t want to bail him out at every opportunity unless absolutely necessary.
Onto the scene steps Christine Smith a gemologist working at an auction house. She is good at her job but wants to move up in her chosen profession and earn more money. She knows if she can obtain the rights to auction Vivienne’s jewellery it will be a major coup and her promotion is guaranteed. She will be set for life. It did seem very far fetched in the way Christine went about doing this. Yes she was to be admired for taking her own initiative but would it really have happened in real life? Can someone lower in society get such access to someone way beyond their reach and status? Although she did get to meet the delectable Tor who seemed to be the only person in the book who had anything genuine about him in the slightest.
There are endless words one could use to describe our main male protagonist Angel, he was a character I hadn’t one ounce of sympathy for him. OK so his reasons and the way he behaves all revert back to his child and yes I could imagine that this could affect the way we act and portray ourselves once we reach adulthood but still he was just utterly vile and depraved. Angel was pure evil and seriously messed up and yes it all stems from Vivienne and Pearl but you would have hoped having witnessed and partaken in certain things as a child that you wouldn’t carry these through into your own future life. That maybe you would want to better yourself but on the other hand if one is so damaged maybe he was irreparable. Angel was filled to the brim with bitterness, greed, anger, hurt and always out for his own personal gain. He had gotten himself into a situation where he saw no other option only to use and abuse people as needed in order to get his long term goal – money. His family connection to his grandmother didn’t come into it one bit, he saw her as a source of money and all the better that she was auctioning off her jewels that only served his purpose even more.
Wealth and addiction are what fuels Angel, compassion and love doesn’t even feature in his vocabulary. I have to admit the way he treated Christine was deplorable yet she was a fool for thinking that Angel could show any sort of affection or what he terms affection. The scenes where they were together were cruel and at times hard to read and she needed to grow a backbone. But then one thinks was she as bad as the rest as furthering her career through obtaining the rights to sell Vivienne’s jewels seemed to be her ultimate goal. Was Angel just a means of stepping further up the career ladder? In fact I didn’t really like any of the characters but that’s the way the book was written and I don’t think this was a story where we were meant to identify with people even Christine until more or less the last minute proved to be a walkover and lacked any strength to say no when no was most certainly needed. I suppose those that we underestimate the most turn out to be the ones who surprise us the most when least expected but most needed.
Killer Diamonds was filled with everything you would expect from this genre and there are quite a few very explicit sex scenes and although they are well written they do come out of nowhere within a chapter and quite frankly some of them left me open mouthed with shock. A friend on Twitter referred to a chapter fairly early on as been shocking and disturbing and I wondered would I feel the same when I cam across said chapter. Well I did and I also felt the same at several stages throughout reading the book. It begs the question was there all just too much here? Did it go too far? Beyond certain boundaries? But I took it all with a pinch of salt and eventually understood they were all necessary to portray the hedonistic world the characters inhabited and also to expose just what a depraved character Angel was and how he came to be such a despicable person. When people read a book of this nature they expect the sex scenes mixed with a storyline that has you grasping for answers and you do find it in this book but at times I felt the overall storyline at certain points took a back seat while the sexual exploits of the main characters were shown in all their detail. I did enjoy the book but felt the plot suffered or lacked a little bit and a little more of the mystery element was needed. When a chapter ended there was a heading in the next chapter as to what time and place we would be reading about next. Sometimes it seemed to me like we skipped parts and the reader was left to fill in pieces of information.This only happened several times but at the same time it annoyed me as this meant the flow of the story was lost at certain points.
The book was slow to get going, there was a lot of setting up to do and numerous characters to introduce, each worse than the other in terms of their personalities and what they got up to but eventually everything kept building and building to a very dramatic conclusion. At one stage I was laughing in disbelief - a man and a window is all I will say. There were a few twists and turns but I felt there could have been a lot more thrown in but despite that this was a good read. Having now read my first Rebecca Chance book I ask myself the question would I read one again? The answer is yes and one of the reasons being a friend mentioned this is Rebecca Chance back to her best and I would love to know if this is the case. I can’t say whether this is true or not as I have nothing else to compare it too so I want to go back to her back catalogue and see what other directions she has previously taken stories of this nature. Yes some aspects of the plot were weaker than others but it still made for an enjoyable read that leave you with a raised eyebrow at the antics that unfold. This is a raunchy, racy read but every now and again you do need to sit back and chill with a book like this, it's good to mix up genres and I'm glad I gave this book a chance. I'll definitely be back for more from Rebecca Chance.
Many thanks to Sophie Goodfellow from ED PR for my copy of Killer Diamonds to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.