With ‘The Paid Companion’, Amanda Quick is officially on my list of favourite authors.
I’ve only ever read a couple of her other books, but could recall only two of them — ‘Mistress’ and ‘Dangerous’. However, from the moment I read the prologue of ‘The Paid Companion’, I was hooked. Having already been acquainted with Quick’s tart sense of humour, vivid detailing and exciting plots in her two other books, I knew from the first pages when she introduced the reader to the heroine and hero, that this is going to be a fun romp through elegant Regency London.
The hero, Arthur, went to an agency to hire a paid companion, a position that Elenora fills, to pose as his fiancee while he unobtrusively tries to investigate the mysterious death of his beloved uncle. But they get more than they bargained for … there’s intrigue, blackmail, triple murders, alchemy and secret identities thrown into a simmering romance that flamed into a heady attraction. And it all started with a staged kiss in a garden. Gee, don’t they all start with that?
Anyway, kudos must go also to the sleek cover art, for it was the cover that caught my eye. I missed the book when it was released last year by its US publisher with a cover depicting what looks like a bust of a Greek goddess (?Minerva). The one I have is published by London-based Piatkus Publishing (see image). The embossing of the author’s name gives the book a very classy touch, and makes it jump out at you. And did I tell you that I simply adore spot varnish finish?
But back to the story, there’re enough twists and surprises to keep you guessing to the very end. I was compelled to finish it over two evenings. Thank goodness it was the weekend and sleep could be sacrificed. So there, do be quick if you wish to catch up with Amanda. I can see myself spending many happy hours backtracking some of her earlier attempts. But a browse through her site tells me that I may well be caught between the old and new titles. There are already a few that I’ve jotted down on my list: ‘Lie by Moonlight’, ‘Wait Until Midnight’ — all with very dark cover art. And some of her Krentz releases are also worth checking out: ‘Falling Awake’ and ‘All Night Long’, mixing suspense and mystery with romance. Just the kind I love.
Well, that’s it for now. Until another book catches my eye.
How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said. ~Victor Hugo
p.s. I’ve recently registered with Bookcrossing and am agonising over which books to release into the wild. If you’re keen, join many others in this random act of literary kindness by jumping into the action too!