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Brilliant [Hardcover]

Marne Davis Kellogg
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 5 2003
Meet Kick Keswick, an elegant and self-possessed American who has been at London's venerable Ballantine & Company Auctioneers for over thirty years. She is an expert on paintings, furniture, and objets d'art, and so far has lived a perfectly happy life with things on her mind other than love. In fact, Kick rarely lets anyone into her private world. She prefers it that way. She adores her elegant, cozy London flat, her books, her music, her delicious meals, and her jewels. Kick doesn’t need a man in her life, messing things up. But when American industrialist, scoundrel and womanizer Owen Brace grabs the faltering Ballantine & Company in a corporate takeover, he turns Kick's world upside down, opening her eyes to large-scale love, romance, and sensuous pleasure.

But something tells Kick that Brace's motives are anything but sincere. And when he gets near enough to threaten Kick's closely guarded life, Brace learns the dangers of underestimating this woman. From sophisticated London to cozy Provence, France, Brilliant is a playfully delicious novel of suspense, masterful revenge, and secrets (the multi-faceted kind).

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Product Description

From Booklist

American Kick Keswick has been working for the esteemed auction house of Ballantine and Company for more than 30 years, a position that came by way of Oklahoma and a lengthy juvenile record. She met Ballantine's owner, Sir Cramner, while visiting London as a teenager and was his mistress until he died. Her expertise in antiquities and jewelry propelled her to executive secretary, and she expects to retire comfortably on a trust fund and the money she makes with her secret life--until the new owner, Owen Brace, blows in. Owen is a larger-than-life, brash American industrialist with lots of plans and an overactive sex life. Kick becomes enamored of her new boss and decides to stick around, but gets more than even she bargained for. Owen brings romance and great sex, but Kick's larcenous habit is nothing compared with what he contrives. Kellogg's sophisticated and lavishly fun tale of greed and daring in the high-stakes auction house world presents a full-figured, tough, and atypical heroine readers will cheer for. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Great wines, elegant villains, remarkable sex and a surprise ending—what more could any reader ask for?” –Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, authors of Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage and The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine.

“Marne Davis Kellogg’s portrait of a world of opulence and decadence is so vivid she must be an insider. Enjoy the guilty pleasures of Brilliant. I did.” –Harry Smith, CBS, Anchor, “The Early Show”

“Marne Davis Kellogg has written an elegant and luscious suspense novel, filled with intriguing twists and turns. As always, Ms. Kellogg’s characters are funny, sexy, interesting, and quirky. Great summer reading. Brilliant is, in a word, brilliant.” –Nelson DeMille, author of Up Country

“Here’s a heroine who loves diamonds, great food, and great ways to get revenge. What more could any woman want? Brilliant is a delicious novel you’ll devour like the most scrumptious meal. I loved Kick Keswick—I wouldn’t want to mess with her but I would enjoy hanging out with her.” –Janet Evanovich, author of To The Nines

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First Sentence
I've reached the point in my life where the thrill of my job is generally vastly more thrilling and interesting to me than the thrill of sex. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars with some complaints but overall 5 stars Dec 18 2003
Format:Hardcover
I give this book 5 stars for the story itself. Kick Keswick as a woman who escaped to London as a teenager to start a new life after a baby she gave up for adoption, a mother who cared less and a juvenile record she needed to escape from. She winds up the protege of Sir Cramner owner of a well established Auction house. After his death the company is taken over by Owen Brace a flashy business man who she helps make over in order to fit in better in the upper class English society that most of their business is done in. In her spare time though she's a well trained and knowledgable jewelry thief. This was a great part of her character.
From the beginning of the story she is tough and does what she has to so she can get by. Perhaps that is why she kind of blended into the the side lines at her job with Ballantine Auction house.
She's very talented in art, jewelry and antique appraising, so I didn't understand the fact that a woman who had been working for years under the owners training would still be an Executive Assistant. In one scene in particular she describes that she's the one that makes sure everything is locked up and another time one of the Vice Presidents is asking her where his coffee/tea is. I didn't understand this part of the story considering she is such a dynamic character to begin with. It bugged me. As I said maybe I missed something, but I don't know that bothered me. She's worked at this company since she was about 18 and although she does make sure everything is running well one of the men was asking her that seemed highly unlikely in today's world.
However, I found the story interesting and fun. I wasn't sure that I'd like the story it took me a little while to get into it, but when I did I was eager to know what would happen next.
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Format:Hardcover
When I picked up this novel to read, I thought I was reading the next segment in her Lilly Bennett series. I soon realized that it wasn't, but I soon fell in love with Kick Keswick.
Kick is the Executive Assistant at Ballantine and Company Auctioneers in England. But, she is also a jewel thief. She has learned so much about jewels that she now constructs fakes and expertly slips the real jewels into her pocket and puts the fakes in the Auction company safes. She also burglarizes home and steals only jewelry and leaves a bouquet of shamrocks. She has become the Shamrock Burglar. No one knows about this side of her life.
There's a lot no one knows about her life. She grew up in Oklahoma and had a bad childhood, though this isn't the story she tells of her childhood. Sir Cramner Ballantine found her and helped her turn her life around. She learned everything there was to learn about the items being auctioned. Before Sir Cramner died, he gave Kick a 15% interest in the company as KDK Trust. No one else knew about this but his lawyer.
Sir Cramner had asked her to keep an eye on his son Sir Benjamin as he took over Ballantine and Company and to not let him run it into the ground. This task about did Kick in. Now Ballantine and Company has merged with Brace International. Owen Brace takes when Sir Benjamin kills himself. Kick has her work cut out for her to help Owen gain the appearance and respect worthy of Ballantine and Company.
The undercurrent of her being a jewel thief working in an upscale business constantly kept this story moving. I found myself picking this book up to read to find out what happened next. It isn't your standard mystery by any means, but I truly enjoyed it and look forward to reading about more adventures with Kick.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, cute story June 22 2003
Format:Hardcover
American Katherine Day Keswick, a.k.a. Kick, has worked for London's Ballantine and Company Auctioneer, Ltd. for over 30 years. She's a true professional and a real expert on fine furniture, paintings and especially jewels. She leads a very private life and wishes to keep it private and soon retire to southern France. Kick has created quite a nest egg for herself over the years in her secret life as a jewel thief. "Just to add a touch of class to my residential burglaries, a little bouquet of shamrocks tied with an ivory satin ribbon replaces the goods. A signal to the target that the bad news is they've been robbed, but the good news is they can take pride in knowing they were robbed by London's best-the Shamrock Burglar."
But now the auction house has a new CEO. "Owen Brace, a self-made man, Irish-American, one of the most successful international takeover artists in the history of business, was a high-speed adrenaline addict and a notorious slash-and-burn specialist." Owen is a womanizer, on his 3rd wife, and a scoundrel. Yet he somehow manages to open Kick's eyes to a new world of love, romance and a physical pleasure she's never known. She sticks around, postponing her departure although something tells her that Owen's intentions may not be honorable.
Does Owen really love Kick? Does she really love him? Will her secret life be found out? Well, I can't tell you that.
The premise of this story was very cute and fun, at times dangerous and exciting. Good character development as well. My only complaint was in Kellogg's descriptions and explanations, such as jewel expertise and jewelry histories. They seemed dictated straight from an encyclopedia, a laundry list of facts. I'm no writer and can't advise on how I would have overcome this. But as a reader, that was my impression.
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