"Once again, the incomparable Quick has whipped up a delectable Regency Romance"(Booklist)—about an ice-cold business agreement that turns into something far more heated.
Although St. Merryn initially intends to keep Elenora at the outskirts of his plans, she quickly asserts herself, forcing herself into his confidence and, soon enough, into his arms. Neither is particularly good at hiding the attraction they feel for one another although Elenora is convinced that, once the mystery is solved, St. Merryn will get on with her life and that Elenora will be forced to move on with her life. Tracking down the killer is a bit complicated, though, and the interval gives them plenty of time to explore the attraction--and for Elenora to dazzle polite society in Regency England.
Author Amanda Quick always writes a fast-paced and entertaining read and THE PAID COMPANION is no exception. That said, I found Elenora to be quite annoying with her complete lack of respect for St. Merryn's finances, her willingness to simply run over whatever ideas he proposed, and her constant jumping to conclusions when a simple conversation would have avoided the misunderstanding. By constantly giving in to Elenora, St. Merryn comes off as a bit of a wimp. The mystery portion of the book is really a non-starter as we are introduced to no suspects and no clues.
I wanted to like THE PAID COMPANION and Quick's writing is strong enough to keep me reading, but the unlikable characters and weak mystery plot definitely detracted.
Now, this book was better than "Don't Look Back" or the rest of the aforementioned series, but it didn't have the sparkle of Quick's earier novels (those characterized by one word titles). I always did feel like her books always (as the quintessential idea of romance novels) were where the lovely virgin meets the "rakish roque" and he wants to ravish her so he marries her. Quick's trademark has always been that one of them is flawed in some way (a scar or a limp or glasses, etc). Later some figure from one of their past comes back to haunt them (usually from her past) and someone is obliged to come in and save the day (sometimes she even saved herself). In this book I can tell that Quick stayed with the typical formula but tried to add more mystery. Her female characters are getting more and more assertive which is a plus. I still, somehow, like the old books better. This sems strange because they were somewhat cookie-cutter, but I still really liked them and re-read them occasionally when I am waiting for her to come out with a new novel.
I cannot put my finger on what exactly abotu this book is lesser than some others, but it is better than her more recent efforts and I did read it in one day - and did enjoy it. It just didn't have the sparkle or chemistry of some of my Quick favorites such as Seduction, Reckless, and Rendezvous. If you really like mystery with your romance you will probably like this book. A warning to romance readers - the romance comes late. If you are a Quick fan you will like this book I think!
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