Desert Isle Keeper
Ravished (#61 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)
An AAR Top 100 Romance
originally published on April 15, 1998
Beauty and the Beast stories are favorites with many readers of romance novels. There is just something about the whole premise that lends itself to romance and resonates with readers in a way that other fairy tale archetypes do not. Ravished is a touching and often funny Beauty and the Beast story set in Regency England. It is many reader’s favorite Amanda Quick novel. I know it is mine.
Harriet Pomeroy is not a typical beauty. She is 25 years old, small, slender and sharp featured. Like all the Amanda Quick heroines, she is unusual. Harriet is wild about paleontology and spends most of her time exploring for fossils in the caves near the village of Upper Biddleton. When she finds evidence that thieves are using the caves to hide their stolen loot, she writes to Gideon, Viscount St. Justin, who manages the estate where the caves are located. Gideon is not a handsome man – he is big and tall with a bad scar on his face caused by a duel. He has a sinister reputation to go along with his sinister appearance. He is suspected to having driven his fiancee to commit suicide and is also suspected of having something to do with the mysterious death of his older brother. As a consequence, Gideon is estranged from his family and Society in general and has lived the past few years very much alone.
When Gideon comes to talk to Harriet about the thieves, she is not at all bothered by his appearance and reputation and immediately begins to tell him all about the caves and the wonderful fossils she has found. Gideon has plans to apprehend the thieves, plans that do not include Harriet. Gideon doesn’t realize that you do not tell an Amanda Quick heroine no. While Gideon is in the cave, he finds himself trapped overnight with Harriet when the tide starts to rise. Of course, since he has compromised her reputation, Gideon proposes and Harriet accepts, much to the horror of some of her friends.
Harriet and Gideon go to London where events pile up thick and fast. Before the book is over, Harriet has reconciled Gideon to his family and to Society, all the mysteries behind the various murders and suicides are cleared up, they catch the ringleader of the thieves and Harriet discovers the remains of a large fossil beast.
Some readers have complained the the latest Amanda Quick novels are not as sensual as her earlier ones. You can’t make that complaint about Ravished. It has several wonderful love scenes including my favorite on where Harriet and Gideon are in bed together and she is comparing various parts of his anatomy to her fossils. It’s a scene that is funny and sexy at the same time.
In many ways Ravished is typical of Amanda Quick’s novels. It is light and funny with a good dose of her trademark humor and lots of action. What makes it different and why it’s my favorite of her books is the portrayal of Gideon. When we meet him, he is one of the most lonely and isolated of men. My heart went out to him. People in Society who are so concerned with outward appearance assume that anyone who is ugly and scarred on the outside must be as ugly and scarred on the inside and guilty of all the bad deeds attributed to him as well. Harriet totally dismisses the gossip and when she is not put off by his appearance, Gideon is at first surprised, then gratified and when he finds out that she thinks he is handsome – well he is totally delighted. At one point, Gideon compares himself to a beast locked in stone and without Harriet’s love and faith in him, he would still be there. It is touching and satisfying to see this proud and lonely man reconciled to his family and brought back into Society by a not-so-typical beauty who believes in him and loves him deeply.