With this Ring
When I pick up a book by Amanda Quick, I expect to not have to worry about a “big misunderstanding.” I expect to enjoy a lot of quality interaction between the hero and the heroine, and I expect that there will be some humor, some passion, and some intrigue. In short, I expect a comfort read. In With This Ring, there is all of the above, but delightfully there are some unexpected twists that will make this particular book by Quick seem unique.
Beatrice is a woman who has had to make her own way in the world, after she lost her husband under questionable circumstances. As a widow, she of course is experienced – I think a first for Quick. In this book there was not the usual “take the virgin” scene, and I, for one, didn’t miss it. To support herself, Beatrice successfully pens “horrid” novels under a pseudonym. These novels are all the rage in England, so Beatrice’s financial future is secured. She is also trying to help her cousin, Arabella, by solving her uncle’s murder. Uncle Reggie recently received a surprise inheritance, and was going to give Arabella a Season and a dowry so her future would be secure.
Instead, Uncle Reggie invested in a piece of antiquity known as the Rings of Aphrodite. Since these Rings are supposed to lead to treasure, Reggie is not the only one after the Rings, and gets himself killed. When Beatrice finds out about the Rings, she feels the only thing she can do is track them down, thus solving her uncle’s murder, and securing Arabella’s future. This is where the hero comes in.
Leo, also known as “The Mad Monk of Monkrest,” is a specialist in legendary antiquity, and a self-described hater of “horrid” novels. He is a widower, and the father of two grown boys. When Beatrice arrives on his doorstep, he ends up deciding that he has to help her, believing that otherwise she will get herself killed. The couple, after going through an attempted kidnapping, finding a few dead bodies, and almost getting themselves killed a time or two, end up (of course) solving the murder and finding the Rings.
I liked both the hero and the heroine. They area bit different than the regular Quick characters. Both are older, and Leo has a family – most of Quick’s heroes are the “Lone Wolf” type until they meet their heroines. Beatrice reminded me a bit of Amelia Peabody (a mystery sleuth created by Elizabeth Peters) in that she considers herself equal to everyone and never hesitates to express herself. She also tends toward the dramatic in her writing. I liked that there are no statements about the size of Leo’s “manhood” – I usually expect some sort of a statement like that from Quick in any of her pseudonyms. I also liked the change in society, at least partially, as well. Beatrice is a member of the Lower Ton, so we don’t hear about Almack’s and the like.
There were a few things I didn’t like. Lack of sex, for instance. Twice in any of JAK’s recent mainstream books has become commonplace, and I for one, am not too happy about it. The secondary characters weren’t as well developed as in other of her books (Ravished comes to mind), and there wasn’t as much humor, but then again, the subject matter was a bit more serious.
Amanda Quick knows her history. This is no idealistic time-period, and she brings out some of the seedier aspects of life during Regency England without focusing on them too much (this is, after all, a romance). With This Ring is, although not her best, certainly worth the read.