Eye Of The Beholder by J. Margot Critch

Eye Of The Beholder by J. Margot Critch
Publisher: Deep Desires Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (91 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

She’s leading the straight life now. He’s the reminder she doesn’t need. Their kiss will ruin everything she’s worked for…or will it?

Former jewel thief, Isla Turner, now works as a museum security consultant. She’s living the straight life, no longer interested in a life of crime. When Jared, her former partner—and ex-lover—returns to ask for her help in one last score, she tells him she isn’t interested. But the thrill that comes along with the job, and being with Jared again, is too much to resist.
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Isla is determined not to cross the lines between love and her old profession. She enjoys the best of both worlds, her passion with Jared igniting. But it’s not long before she finds out why he’s really at the museum, and worse, the theft he’s planning reveals that a big deal is about to go down—the theft of the most prized Alexandria’s Eye Diamond itself. Worse, her boss is in the know, and indifferent. Doing the right thing might mean crossing the line not only to forbidden love, but to the past she’s tried to leave behind. If she gets this wrong, she’ll lose everything…

Isla worked in the Miami Museum of Antiquities in their security division, a boring but stable and, most importantly, legitimate job. She’d worked hard to leave her past long behind. Until the Alexandria’s Eye diamond was booked for a short showing, and then her past – and certain people she’d been avoiding – collided with her present. Jared Spencer was one of the biggest things of Isla’s past – her past partner in her career as a jewel thief and also her past lover. When Jared shows back up in town again – is his eye on the diamond, or her, or both?

I’m a total sucker for a jewel heist story, and add in that both the heroine and hero are thieves (whether past, present or a mixture of both is open to debate) and there’s a sizzling chemistry between them and I’m guaranteed to not be able to walk by this story. I was pretty excited, therefore, when I discovered this wasn’t a simple “come back to me and start stealing once again” sort of plotline. Without giving too much away Jared – surprisingly – has the moral high ground here to my mind. I found this a refreshing change. I’d assumed that Jared would be the wicked “bad” guy and seduce or lure Isla back into her life of crime. And in some ways he did, but it was very clearly all for the right reasons.

It also came as a bit of a surprise to me when Isla didn’t jump at the chance to do something dodgy for all the right reasons. I was a little confused by Isla’s character in the first third of the book or so as it seemed that while she missed her life of crime – and Jared in particular – she also wasn’t that eager to do a wrong thing for some very morally right reasons. It struck me as strange and I couldn’t really understand Isla’s thought process behind it at all. Thankfully she changed her mind fairly promptly, but it made her character feel a lot less easy to relate to and understand – at least to my perspective.

The chemistry between Isla and Jared was smoking though. I thought their desire for each other was still very strong and they were certainly combustible once they got together. I found it a little unrealistic that Jared had waited eight years to chase after Isla after she left him – although the author did explain what had been occurring in the meantime – but I certainly found their sexual chemistry and shenanigans was spicy, explicit and enough to singe the page.

Readers looking for a heist/thief style of story with good characters and strong chemistry and an erotic edge should find this book very satisfying.

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