This is a simple and engaging romance set in 1881 in the small town of Grayson Grove. Eli Grayson is a confirmed bachelor whose troubled past seems mostly behind him but whose beloved newspaper has had to close due to lack of funds. When a newspaperman talks about starting up the paper again Eli is thrilled, but it seems that G W Hicks won't trust Eli unless he's a married man. Eli says that he has a wife and then has to persuade one of his lifelong female friends, Jewel Crowley, to agree to masquerade as his wife for one evening meal.
But that one meal with G W Hicks starts something more serious. When the locals hear that Eli and Jewel are married they realise they will have to be married in truth in order to save her reputation. Their marriage starts off without much hope - Jewel has no desire to be one of the many women that Eli carries on with, Eli discovers his wife is fairly independent and wants to get a divorce in due course. Can they both learn to trust each other, and will the return of an unpleasant woman from Eli's past cause irreparable problems to their fledgling relationship?
'Jewel' was an enjoyable book to read with a lighthearted feel. There wasn't too much depth to any of the characters, settings or events but some of the historical situations were interesting and the backdrop of the struggle for rights of black people was well written. It was a gentle romance which will appeal to people who like historical romances and for those who like to read stories with black couples as the hero and heroine.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008