New York Times bestselling author Amanda Quick returns with a thrilling new venture into romance and mystery, featuring the most unusual, highly compatible--undeniably combustible--pairing of Tobias March and his mesmerizing partner, Lavinia Lake.An invitation to a country house party at Beaumont Castle provides a perfect solution to Tobias and Lavinia's most exasperating challenge: how to escape the chaos of London for a remote, relaxing--and above all romantic--retreat from prying eyes and wagging tongues. But the lovers' plans are foiled when their first cozy interlude of the weekend is disrupted by the appearance of a stunning woman from Tobias's past. Aspasia Gray's beauty is as haunting as her connection to Tobias. Her long-deceased fiancé was a friend of his--in addition to being an eccentric assassin. The mysterious nature of the bond between Tobias and Aspasia makes Lavinia more than a little uncomfortable. Especially as her first encounter with Aspasia occurs when she finds her in Tobias's bedchamber.
Private investigators Lavinia Lake and Tobias March (Slightly Shady; Don't Look Back) return to the chase in Regency England, hot on the trail of a murderer for hire when not disporting themselves discreetly beneath the sheets. This time a macabre murderer appears to be copycatting two killers who left behind memento mori rings at the scenes of their crimes. The original Memento Mori Man murdered for hire decades earlier, taking on assignments only if he thought the target thoroughly deserved death. Three years before the start of this novel, the same "ghastly signature" was employed by Zachary Elland in tribute to his predecessor. Elland, March's fellow spy (during the Napoleonic wars), committed suicide after March unmasked him, so when a memento mori ring turns up on the doorstep of Elland's rich lover, Aspasia Gray, March is not surprised when she seeks him out at Lord Beaumont's country-house party. Lake, however, is dismayed, since Gray wants more than just March's investigative skills. A murder is promptly committed at Beaumont's estate, and Lake and March launch their investigations, centering on a certain unstylish blonde wig and a trio of dangerous, dowagers. Quick,a pseudonym for prolific romance author Jayne Anne Krentz, relies on her quicksilver sense of humor and tart research into period hairdressers and British upper-crust society. Lake and March's lusty if predictable romps should please Quick fans, as should the contrasting "demure" period flirtation between Lake's niece, Emeline, and March's adopted brother, Anthony, which is tested by the arrival of Dominic Hood, Anthony's half-brother, suggesting future fireworks. As this engaging effort demonstrates, Quick has the Regency-murder mystery mix down to a fine science. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Late for the Wedding by Amanda Quick
The first indication he got that his carefully laid plans for the night were doomed came when he opened his bedchamber door and found Cleopatra standing in the hallway.
"Bloody hell," he said very softly. "I was expecting Minerva."
His long-anticipated vision of a night of passion spent in a comfortable bed with his lover and occasional business partner, Lavinia Lake, faded into a hazy mist.
His past had come back to haunt him at a most inconvenient moment.
"Hello, Tobias." The woman in the hall lowered the green and gilt mask attached to the little gold post in her hand. The cobra diadem that graced her long, elaborately braided black wig gleamed in the light of a nearby wall sconce. Wry amusement lit her dark eyes. "It has been a long time, has it not? May I come in?"
It had, in fact, been three years since he had last seen Aspasia Gray, but she had changed very little. She was still a stunningly beautiful woman with a classical profile that was well-suited to her guise as the queen of Egypt. He knew that her real hair was a deep, rich brown. Her tall, elegantly proportioned figure was displayed to advantage in a pale green gown trimmed with gold embroidery.
The last thing he wanted to do tonight was renew old acquaintances, Tobias March thought. But the sight of Aspasia Gray had definitely shattered the mood. Memories from that very dark time three years ago crashed over him with the force of storm-driven waves.
He collected his wits with an effort and quickly surveyed the darkened hallway behind Aspasia. There was no sign of Lavinia. Maybe, if he acted swiftly, he would be able to rid himself of his unwelcome visitor before his evening was entirely ruined.
"I suppose you'd better come in." Reluctantly, he stepped back.
"You have not changed, sir," she murmured. "Still as gracious as ever, I see."
She entered the firelit room with a soft rustle of silken skirts and a whisper of exotic perfume. He closed the door and turned to face her.
He had not noticed any Cleopatras at the costume ball earlier in the evening, but that was not surprising. Beaumont Castle was a huge, sprawling monstrosity of a house, and tonight it was crammed with people. He had been interested in only one particular guest.
The invitation to the house party had come through the auspices of Lord Vale. Tobias's first, automatic inclination had been to decline the offer. He had little interest in such affairs. House parties, in particular, struck him as tedious at best, albeit his experience of them was limited.
But then Vale had reminded him of the one singular attraction of a properly organized country-house party.