It isn't easy making a living as a lady's companion when one possesses a sharp tongue and an original mind. That's why Emma Greyson has gone through three such positions in six months. Her current post at a tiresome country house party has her bored to tears-until an extraordinary encounter with the legendary Edison Stokes leads to a secret position as his assistant. Stokes is on a peculiar mission, searching for an anonymous thief who has stolen an ancient book of arcane potions. He suspects his quarry is among the party's guests-and that the villain is looking for an intuitive woman on whom to test a certain elixir. A woman just like Emma... For Emma, the new post brings unexpected passion and chilling danger. But when murder strikes, she realizes the awful truth. Unless she and Edison devise a scheme to outwit a merciless killer, she could forever lose the man of her dreams-and even her very life....
Strong-willed, and with a redhead's combustible temper, paid companion Emma Greyson finds herself embroiled in a dangerous adventure with the dashing Edison Stokes. A wealthy member of Regency England's "Polite World," Stokes follows the clue in a dying man's last words to arrive at Ware Castle, where he suspects a dark plot is underway. At the castle he encounters Emma, who stands out among the era's decadent and depraved society as a woman of sharp intelligence. From their awkward introduction�in a wardrobe where Emma has gone to seek refuge from the unwelcome attentions of a lecher and Edison is searching for clues�the two develop an alliance often made precarious by their smoldering attraction. When Emma's life is threatened by a thief at large among Ware Castle's guests, Edison's courage and his loyalty to Emma are put to the test. A veteran in the army of steamy historical amour, Quick (With This Ring; other novels as Jayne Ann Krentz) tosses off her 15th such romance with ease. Attractive protagonists, loose bodices, thwarted love and odds overcome prove themselves once again the ingredients for success in this genre. (Apr.)
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January 31, 2000
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Excerpt from I Thee Wed by Amanda Quick
The Bastard was here at Ware Castle. Damn the man. Emma Greyson clenched one gloved hand into a fist on the balcony railing. Of all the thoroughly rotten luck. Then again, it was all of a piece, she thought. Her luck had been rotten for some time now, culminating in complete financial disaster two months ago. Nevertheless, discovering that she would have to spend the next week trying to avoid Chilton Crane was really too much. She drummed her fingers on the ancient stone. She should not have been so startled to see Crane arrive that afternoon. After all, the Polite World was a relatively small one. There was nothing odd about The Bastard being among the many guests who had been invited to the large house party. She could not afford to lose this post, Emma thought. Crane might not remember her, but the only sensible thing to do was to stay out of his path for the duration of the house party. With so many people about, it should be a simple matter to disappear into the woodwork, she assured herself. Few took any notice of paid companions. A slight whisper of movement in the darkness below the balcony jerked her out of her glum reverie. She frowned and peered more closely into the deep shadows cast by a high hedge. One of the shadows shifted. It moved out of the darkness and glided across a moonlit patch of lawn. She leaned forward and caught a glimpse of the figure who moved like a ghost through the silver light. Tall, lean, dark haired, dressed entirely in black clothing. She did not need the brief glint of moonlight on his austere, ascetic cheekbones to recognize the man below. Edison Stokes. By chance she had been returning from a walk yesterday afternoon when he arrived at the castle. She had seen him drive his gleaming phaeton into the courtyard. The sleek carriage had been drawn by perfectly matched, well-trained bays. The huge creatures had responded to Stokes's hands on the ribbons with calm precision. Their willing obedience indicated that their master relied on technique and skill rather than whips and savage bits for control. Later Emma had noticed that the other guests watched Stokes with sidelong glances whenever he was in the room. She knew their ferretlike interest meant that he was very likely both extremely wealthy and extremely powerful. Quite possibly extremely dangerous. All of which made him extremely fascinating in the minds of the bored and thoroughly jaded elite. The shadows shifted again. Emma leaned a little farther out over the balcony. She saw that Stokes had one leg over the sill of an open window. How very odd. He was, after all, a guest in the castle. There was no need for him to skulk about this way. There was only one reason why Stokes would choose such a clandestine approach. He was either returning from a tryst with the wife of one of the other guests or he was about to conduct one. She did not know why, but she had expected better of Stokes. Her employer, Lady Mayfield, had introduced them last night. When he had inclined his head very formally over her hand, her intuition had sparked briefly. This was not another Chilton Crane, she had told herself. Edison Stokes was more than just another debauched rake in a world that already teemed with an overabundance of the species. Obviously she had been wrong. And not for the first time lately. A burst of raucous laughter spilled from one of the open windows farther along the east wing of the castle. The men in the billiard room sounded quite drunk. Music poured forth from the ballroom. Down below her balcony, Edison Stokes vanished into a darkened chamber that was not his own. After a while Emma turned and walked slowly back into a dimly lit stone passage. She could safely retire to her bedchamber, she decided. Lady Mayfield would be in her altitudes by now. Letty was extremely fond of champagne. She would never notice that he