Reba Farrall was lost -- until a kindly old gentleman took her under his wing and helped heal her shattered spirit. Now her dearest friend is gone, leaving her with a doubting, broken heart... and half-interest in a California gem mine.
Now Chance Walker has burst into Reba's life -- a daring adventurer who believes in nothing except the priceless uncut stones for which he searches the Earth.
In the blistering heat of Death Valley -- in the intoxicating presence of a jewel more exquisite than any he has ever seen -- Chance must confront a dire peril that stalks the sad and sensuous beauty. For only he can save Reba Farrall from harm -- and only she can teach him how to love.
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January 01, 1994
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Excerpt from Lover in the Rough by Elizabeth Lowell
"Ms. Farrall," asked the photographer, do you want the white jade dish next to the baroque pearl cluster or the ivory sculpture "
Reba Farrall walked gracefully over the dry streambed toward the photographer. Angular gravel grated beneath her flat-heeled sandals. She stopped behind the photographer, bent and looked through the camera lens. Absently she pushed aside wisps of honey-blond hair that had escaped from the casual knot she wore on top of her head. She straightened and flipped through the papers on her clipboard, trying to look professional and competent when all she wanted to do was steal away for a few minutes and cry.
"Group eight " asked Reba, her voice higher and harsher than its normal contralto.
"Yes," said the photographer, consulting her own clipboard.
Reba looked back at the precious objets d'art resting on the ledge of natural marble. Pale marble walls rose on either side of the dry streambed, walls polished by water and time into flowing curves and hollows. Bands of cream and pale yellow, gold-grey and eggshell wove through the walls, giving depth and subtle texture to the satiny stone. Above the marble rose steep, deeply eroded hills of vermilion and black and chocolate, volcanic rock so new that the sun hadn't had time yet to bake out the intense colors.
Mosaic Canyon's contrast in textures was fascinating. Polished marble walls that would be the envy of any castle were juxtaposed against the jagged debris of past volcanic explosions. Bent, broken, canted on edge, the banded marble strata were almost shocking in their smoothness. The subtly untamed stone was an excellent foil for the tranquil, highly civilized curves of the white jade dish. The baroque pearls, however, didn't quite fit. As for the arching, intricately carved ivory bridge...
"Do the dish alone on the marble. Try the baroque pearls in one of the hollows," said Reba, pointing to one of the many holes that pocked the marble, creating natural handholds and footholds up the face of the eight-foot wall. "I think the ivory bridge will do better contrasted against the darker mixture of marble and volcanic rocks in the streambed."
The photographer's assistant arranged the jade and pearls and ivory, adjusted the lighting, and stepped aside. The photographer squinted through the lens, readjusted the white parasols and reflective panels and began to shoot.
Reba watched with a patience that went no deeper than the mist of perspiration on her skin. She knew that her desire to lash out at the people around her was irrational. The photographer was excellent. The guards were as unobtrusive as men carrying guns could be. The two insurance agents had stayed out of the way. The various assistants and gofers had been more help than bother. Except for Todd Sinclair, everyone was doing exactly what was expected. And, in a way, so was Todd. He was being every bit the crass boor that he had been while his grandfather was alive.