A Precious Stone is an engaging contemporary adventure romance set in Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska and Uganda.
As the book opens, Jewel Etchemendy sits in an Alaskan bar pondering her next move. At 18, she had inherited her Basque family’s Wyoming ranch and turned down a marriage proposal from her best friend whose family managed the land. She immediately fled to college, completed Army Reserve Officers Training and served two years as a combat nurse in Iraq. As she sits wondering about her future, she meets handsome, ex-U.S. Army sniper Grady McDonald and they fall in love.
Life soon becomes very complicated. Jewel is kidnapped, held captive and tortured by a man who is obsessed with her. She shoots him and escapes. Jewel and Grady happily marry but problems arise with a past girlfriend, a daughter he never knew existed and the girl’s criminally inclined stepfather.
This is only scratching the surface of a plot that also includes a miscarriage, a humanitarian aid trip to Uganda, a hostage situation and rescue. The book’s Epilogue touches on a Congressional investigation into Grady’s activities and sets the stage for a sequel.
Clearly, this is a novel of large scope. The author avoids confusion by skillfully weaving the plots together and structuring the text into digestible chapters. The book has many elements that fit into the romance genre — the romance is sensual but not overly explicit — with Jewel and Grady’s relationship often taking center stage.
The characters are well developed, and their realism makes the nonstop action believable. It’s unfortunate, however, that the narrative is overwritten. The book would benefit from tightening the prose in order to keep the pace lively and momentum at a premium. Grady’s dialogue, ladened with heavy-handed uses of “ta, yer, and ya,” becomes distracting and could also use revision.
Nonetheless, A Precious Stone is a fun, action-packed romantic read. Readers will most likely forgive some overwriting in order to lose themselves in this long and generally satisfying tale.
Also available as an ebook.