by Amanda Quick

January 1999
ISBN: 0-553-57409-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

The Earl of Monkcrest is not expecting Fate to arrive on his doorstep one stormy evening. But it does, in the guise of one Mrs. Beatrice Poole, widow, and secret writer of "horrid novels"! Most regency fans know that Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz - and this book contains all the wonderful Krentz trademarks that we have come to expect. Leo and Beatrice are immediately plunged into a world of intrigue and stolen artifacts, while scarcely daring to believe in the tingling sensuality that erupts between them in no time at all! The Earl is a widower with grown sons, Mrs. Poole a widow with no intentions of getting involved again.

The development of the relationship between these two delightful characters is a joy to read - we laugh and sigh with them as they come to realize the depths of their passion for each other. Their involvement is played against a backdrop of museums, musty and forgotten crypts and characters who may or may not be what they seem. Leo and Beatrice unhesitatingly visit some of the more unpleasant areas of nineteenth century London, and part of the charm of this novel is the way in which the maturity of the characters is balanced by the maturity of the plot and the settings. No fainting heroines in this tale, nor Byronic heroes riding ventre-a-terre to the rescue in the nick of time! Just a well-paced story and a wonderful love affair, which does, admittedly, reduce its principals to stuttering ecstasy at times!

Beatrice, who is trying desperately to conceal her identity as a Horrid Novel writer (what we call today Gothic Horror), can't help seeing Leo as almost like one of her heroes come to life, and Leo comes to realize that Beatrice is exactly what his life has been lacking! But before they reach this happy conclusion, they must travel a rocky and dangerous path to the end of their quest - one that will take them to seedy apothecary shops and flagrantly erotic Houses of Ill Repute! Their strength will be tested along with their emotions, but never fear- it is clear that Leo and Beatrice belong together. Amanda Quick has never been better - if you have not read any of her works, start with this one. If you're already a fan, then you will simply adore this romance!

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.

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