Saturday, April 4, 2009

The River Knows (book) by Amanda Quick

The hero and heroine of this historical romance, set in late Victorian London, are Anthony Stalbridge and Louisa Bryce. Anthony, who comes from a wealthy and eccentric family, is obsessed with finding his fiancee's murderer, who he believes is a man named Elwin Hastings. Louisa Bryce is also investigating Hastings, convinced that he has financial connections to a brothel - since Louisa is secretly a reporter, and Hastings is in relatively good standing in Society, this would be very important news.

Louisa and Anthony bump into each other in Elwin Hastings' house. Anthony has long been intrigued by Louisa - although she appears drab and unnoticeable, there's something about her that seems mysterious. In order to dispel the suspicions of one of Hastings' guards, Anthony kisses Louisa in an attempt to make it look like they were engaged in a secret tryst when she is caught skulking about Hastings' house during a party. Afterwards, Louisa assumes Anthony is a gentleman jewel thief and hires him to break into Hastings' safe in order to find the proof she needs for her story. While taking care of Louisa's task, Anthony discovers proof that Hastings did indeed kill his fiancee. Unfortunately, the proof isn't good enough to get him arrested.

Louisa and Anthony end up working together to investigate Hastings - Anthony would prefer to work alone, but Louisa is stubborn. Besides, once the attempts on both their lives begin, Anthony is determined to keep Louisa safe. Meanwhile, Louisa has a few personal problems she has to deal with. One, she's attracted to Anthony, but she's sure he's still in love with his fiancee. Two, Louisa has a terrible secret: she was responsible for the murder of Lord Gavin. She's changed her name and deliberately made herself unremarkable in order to keep from being recognized.

I know that romance novels by popular and prolific authors like Quick (a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz), or even just romance novels in general, make some people gag. I think the most common complaint I've heard is that they're predictable. Well of course they're predictable! Fans of romance expect the hero and heroine to fall in love and eventually end up together - it's how they get there that's the fun part.

Anyway, that's certainly the case with this book. There's no doubt that Anthony and Louisa will end up together, but first they have to get over their own issues and survive an investigation into multiple murders. The main reason Anthony is so obsessed with the death of his fiancee is because he wants reassurance that she didn't really kill herself - if she had, it might've been his fault, since he was going to break off their engagement (I'm not going to explain all the details). Louisa's got her past history as a murderess (it was self-defense, but since she's a woman and he was a lord, that's not necessarily going to be good enough). As is usual in many of Quick/Krentz's romances, love and enough money to excuse eccentricity conquers all.

I won't say that this is the best romance I've ever read. Anthony was okay, but not a very original character. Louisa's stubbornness and insistence that she can take care of herself had a tendency to be annoying - if she could really take care of herself, she wouldn't continuously need to be saved by Anthony. I also found it strange that she was able to have so many underworld connections (a woman who works with former prostitutes, an actress who's the lover of a dangerous crime boss) and yet still be so naive about some things (like the dangers of her job).

Despite all that, I still had fun reading this book. It's not something I'd want to buy (I checked this out from the library), but I didn't consider it a waste of my time. It made for some good, relaxing reading. As far as the historical aspects go, though, I kind of wondered how accurate all of that was. I'm not really the best person to comment on that kind of stuff (what do I know about about Victorian London?), but I've read that historical accuracy isn't really Quick's strong suit. If that sort of thing is important to you, you might want to skip this.

Hmm. You can probably tell, but I had some trouble coming up with read-alikes for this book. This list is just pathetic.

  • River's End (book) by Nora Roberts - Olivia McBride and her parents seemed like a perfect Hollywood family, until one night 4-year-old Olivia (Livvy) finds her mother murdered and her father standing over the corpse. Years later, Livvy has tried to put the past behind her, but that becomes difficult when her father decides to set the record straight and contacts Noah Brady to write his side of the story. Noah and Livvy have met before and are attracted to one another, but Noah doesn't realize that his investigations into the past may put Livvy in danger. Those who'd like another suspenseful romance, written by an author with a writing style similar to Krentz/Quick, might want to try this.
  • Soft Focus (book) by Jayne Anne Krentz - Six months after a disastrous one-night stand, Jack Fairfax and Elizabeth Cabot are less than thrilled to discover that they'll have to work together to recover a stolen crystal vital to a business they both have a stake in. Their attempts to find the crystal take them into the world of film noir (or at least B movie film noir). Those who'd like to try something by the same author as The River Knows ("Amanda Quick" is one of Krentz's pseudonyms) might enjoy this contemporary/suspenseful romance. Krentz also writes futuristic romance under the name Jayne Castle - characters and aspects of the settings feel like contemporary romance, but the stories are actually set on other planets, so certain environmental and societal details are different. Those who'd like to try Castle's books might want to start with either Amaryllis or Harmony. I prefer her St. Helen's series (begins with Amaryllis), but the books might be hard to find.
  • High Energy (book) by Dara Joy - Zanita is a zany, befuddled reporter for a small newspaper, trying to investigate a phony psychic. Her befuddled-ness makes itself known early, when she tries to research psychics by signing up for a college course on them and instead signs up for a course in physics. The professor is brilliant, gorgeous, and eccentric Tyberius Augustus Evans, who quickly falls for the very non-linear Zanita and becomes determined to watch out for her as she pursues her story about the psychic. Those who'd like another romance novel starring a female reporter who's determined to get her story, regardless of the danger, might want to try this. Be warned, though - from what I can remember, the sex scenes in this book are a bit more graphic than anything in Quick's book.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, I've seen that heroine stubborness thing before. Sometimes it really works, but sometimes it can be annoying. Still, it sounds like a fun read!