EMERALD is another "romantic" novel. The illogic of such categorization is proved by the juxtaposition, for the two books are utterly unlike and will not appeal to the same audiences. Author Phyllis Whitney's devoted readers know what to expect from her, and Emerald will not disappoint them; it is romantic suspense written by one of the most skilled craftsmen in the business. Whitney's heroines are liberated women; they may--and do--end up in the arms of the hero, but they have to solve their own problems before they get there. Carol Barclay, the heroine of Emerald, faces a tragically contemporary danger: her brutal, powerful ex- husband is trying to kidnap their small son, though the divorce proceedings awarded her custody of the child. Seeking temporary sanctuary and a chance to plan her future strategy, Carol turns to her great-aunt, once a glamorous film star, now in seclusion in Palm Springs, California. Carol must not only protect the boy from his father, but solve a mystery involving two legendary screen lovers of film's golden age before the happy ending can be attained. As usual, Whitney uses the geography and history of the area effectively in working out the denouement, and there are loving evocations of the Hollywood of the past, plus a surprise-twist ending that will catch most readers off quard.