on November 12, 2008
A fun, light, quick-witted read!
Only a year or so ago, Louisa Bryce, a very intelligent woman, faked a suicide to run from the supposed murder of a very prominent, but very evil, man. Hired by Emma Ashton as a companion, someone to write her memoires, Louisa and Emma quickly become fast friends, where Louisa confesses all. In order to help, Emma is playing off Louisa as a distant cousin from the country who is now widowed. "Unimportant, unfashionable and excessively dull", Louisa manages to squeeze around the Polite World, uncovering deep secrets of the weathly Society ton. She is, after all, a journalist for the Flying Intelligencer, a notorious rag; pen name: I. M. Phantom. No one knows her background, and she intends to keep it that way.
Convinced that Elwin Hastings is up to no good, let alone a possible murderer, she sets off to investigate and find the truth. During a ball, she slips unoticed up the stairs to search his rooms. Leaving his bedroom, she is caught by Anthony Stalbridge, saving her from almost being caught by one of Hastings's personal hired guards. Seems that Anthony is convinced that Hastings murdered his fiancee, Fiona Risby. He's looking for proof - regardless if Hastings pays for his crimes, he still wants the proof. With a quick-witted discussion, the two become unlikely partners, both after the same goal.
And that's when the fun begins. Evidence is found in the way of business papers and one of Fiona's very expensive necklace (the one she was wearing the night she disappeared from a party); now Anthony and Louisa are sure there is more afoot and continue to dig. Louisa would like nothing more than to expose him to the Society he so desperately wants to belong to. Anthony wants him to confess to murdering Fiona. Will they get what they covet most?
Oh, you most certainly bet they do - almost more than they bargain for. Yes, you find out early on the who and what, but it's how the plot came about and to a close that keeps your attention. The more they dig, the more facts come to light, the more questions answered and more arise, that have you focussing on the story, and the main characters.
Louisa is a strong and intelligent woman, regardless of her naivete. She fights for what she believes is right, even if she's putting herself unknowingly in harm's way. Anthony is the only person in his family with a head for finances; seems his father, mother and sister are the eccentric artists of the family. Strong-willed and relentless, he had spotted Louisa right off and became intrigued by the unknown woman; he could see the intelligence in her eyes, no matter how dull she made herself seem in the form of dress and conversation. And the more time they spend together, the more they fall in love with each other. But Louisa believes that it can be nothing more than an illicit affair, especially knowing that, if anyone discovered her past, she'd be hanged for murder.
Quick-witted conversations, discussions and the hot passion they feel for each other will have you believing they are made for each other - two halves of a whole. I liked how Quick touched base on what it was like for woman in that day in age, where women were really considered the weaker sex, where they were valued for their looks, bloodline and money, not for their mind. I like how, not once but twice, Louisa rises above, first after her father dies, then after her faked suicide. It was nice to see Anthony falling in love with her, first and foremost, for her intelligence and integrity. Perfect match. Great climax to the story, even if you did see it coming. Couldn't have asked for better!