Tuesday, June 13, 2006

SECOND SIGHT by Amanda Quick

Alice Kendall reviews SECOND SIGHT: An Arcane Society Novel by Amanda Quick (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2006.)

Venetia Milton is a young unmarried woman in Victorian England trying to support her family in an England that is not very supportive of young unmarried women who have no male support. Fortunately, she has a talent. She is an excellent photographer. Her talent got her the job of photographing the artifacts of the Arcane Society; the money they paid her will launch her career in this fledgling profession. That is why she finds herself in a remote part of England on a very secluded estate trying to seduce the handsome and enigmatic Gabriel Jones, curator of the collection. For Venetia has secrets: secrets that prevent her from ever marrying. Thus, this looked like the perfect opportunity to experience intimacy without having to make a commitment or any explanations.

Everything was going well until intruders sent Venetia racing through secret tunnels dragged along by Gabriel, intent on getting her to safety. Safe at home, Venetia reads with dismay that the estate has burned and Gabriel’s body was discovered in the ruins. Ever resourceful, she assumes the persona of the “Widow Jones” and is gratified by the praise and awards she garners from her pictures and the first taste of security her family has enjoyed since the death of her parents. Things are going according to plan until Gabriel walks into her house, back from the dead. By becoming his widow, Venetia has put both herself and her family in danger. In the end, all secrets are revealed, the bad guys are thwarted and love conquers all.

Second Sight is everything one has come to expect from Jayne Ann Krentz, whether writing her present time romances in her own name or historical romances as Amanda Quick--likable characters with great personal strength, paranormal forces, and sizzling sexuality. There also are passages that remind one of Georgette Heyer at her best: witty repartee that keeps you turning pages with a smile and often a chuckle. It is a great romp with just a touch Victorian, some very hot romance and lots of laughs.

Alice Kendall, Parkway Village Branch Library

Win a chance to talk to your favorite author!

Enter the drawing at your local library to attend
the Tell Me About a Book! Book Club Conference
on August 26.

A telephone conference call with Jayne Ann Krentz (aka "Amanda Quick")
will be one highlight of the conference.
Other highlights include a free lunch, door prizes
and a keynote address by mystery author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River).



I've started reading Second Sight, but haven't finished it yet. I was struck by Venetia's "solution" given the standards of the day (i.e., realizing that she was out of the marriage market, she planned a seduction in a remote town--thus safeguarding her reputation).

I imagine that marriage and chastity are central issues in historical romances--I am thinking particularly of those set in England between 18th and early 20th centuries.

What do you think of some of the more recent, highly sensual historical romances such as Stephanie Laurens' WHAT PRICE LOVE?". While it was fun to read, I wondered what social consequences the heroine Priscilla Dalloway would have faced if she had been a real person living in early 1800s.
Hi Doris,

I've never noticed that Amanda Quick is particularly interested in
the mass consciousness of the setting of her novels.
Her heroines' actions and motives are very much what we believe
today. The mores of the period are only mentioned
in passing to show how the heroine (and hero) work around them.
Even her use of the language avoids the idioms and
structure of the time. Actually, the only thing historical about
her stories is the technology.

I think what makes her books so much fun is that it's easy to put
myself in the heroine's shoes as though I'd conquered time
travel and gone back to Victorian England. As much as I enjoy Jane
Austin, I really want to cringe at the acceptance of women's
roles back then. And I understand it better than you young women
who never had to accept that girls had to wear dresses in
any kind of weather, didn't have any organized sports in school and
always had to stay and do the household chores while
their brothers had part-time jobs or were playing some game. It's
hard to believe that most women at the turn of the century
did not believe that women should have the vote. They were
convinced that their power and their place was behind of and
supporting the men they admired and loved. Of course, that was the
male vision, the women just accepted it as true. Thank
god we are way past that socially, philosophically and actually
(except in fundamentalist teachings, of course).

Ok, I've finished my rant now. Anyway, I have found the only thing
historical in Krentz's historical romances is the setting.
That's ok by me, I get a big kick out of them. I hope you enjoy
Second Sight and go back and pick up some of her earlier

I just finished Mary Jo Putney's The Marriage Spell. I enjoyed reading about Abby, a wizard who uses her magical powers to heal. Abby is strong, resourceful, compassionate, sensual and "magnificent" though not a conventional beauty.

I thought about Alice's comments. Putney set her story about love and magic during Regency England but wasn't confined by the conventions of that time. Because books about this period focus on the Ton or the movers and shakers of London society, it was inventive of Putney to make aristocratic prejudices against wizards a central part of the plot.

Read Maya Berry's review of The Marriage Spell.
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