Friday, November 14, 2008

Ravished by Amanda Quick *****

Another one bites the dust! This is #42 on the AAR Top 100 Romance Novels of 2007, so I am one book closer to my Quest. And I enjoyed it as well!

Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, and this is my second Quick book. I have not read any under Krentz's name at all. The first Quick book, Thee I Wed, only garnered 3 stars for me, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. However - I've found that most authors have books I love and others not so much, so I shouldn't be surprised.

The heroine Harriet is a bluestocking - she's practically off-the-shelf at nearly-25 (oh, how I laugh at this description!) and she's a dedicated paleontologist as well. She spends her days hunting for fossils and studying them and journaling them. She also discovers hidden loot in one of "her" caves, and summons the landowner to assist her in nabbing the thieves so she can safely fossil-hunt alone.

The landowner is our hero, The Beast of Blackthorne Hall, Gideon. In addition to his massive size, he bears a hideous scar on his face from swordplay with a friend many years before. He also bears a hideous scar on his psyche: 6 years earlier, while betrothed to the rector's daughter, the woman killed herself and the unborn child she was carrying. As rumor would have it, he ravished her, and when told she was pregnant, he broke the engagement, causing her grief enough to shoot herself. As this happened shortly after his older brother died in an accident, rumor further embellished the story that he was instrumental in both deaths. Because of the grief his parents felt, they also bought the story of his ravishing and leaving his betrothed.

Harriet cares nothing for rumor; she only wants the thieves caught so she can go on rock-hunting. Gideon forms a plan but neglects to share it with her, so in her curiosity she watches over the caves from the cliffs above to see if he catches the thieves. He does, but she is also caught by one of them, who drags her into the caves right as the tide is rising, threatening to trap them both for several hours. The thief tries to escape, and Gideon comes to the rescue. But, lo, what does that mean? That Gideon and Harriet are now trapped for the rest of the night, alone just the 2 of them (since the thief did get away) in the cave while the tide is in... Hmmmm...

Well, it's not exactly a spoiler to say she was ravished. After all, that is the name of the book. But since she's actually attracted to him, and actually participates fully, she feels the next day there is no need for him to jump to any wild conclusions like he must marry her. (ah, that almost had me ditching the book - lucky for me, the witty prose had already engaged me so I hung on...) Of course, society being what it is, he had to marry her or she would suffer the ruination of her reputation - indeed, she would suffer what he has been suffering for the past 6 years, and he could not bear it.

The story is one of intrigue and indeed murder - and there was more than one villain to keep track of. After the betrothal, Harriet goes to London for the Season and some well-meaning buddies from the paleontology society kidnap her and try to marry her off to someone else to prevent her marriage to The Beast. No one can believe she goes willingly to him, even Gideon himself. Over the course of the book, while mysteries and murders are being solved, and fossils uncovered, Harriet is instrumental in helping The Beast learn to love again - and it's a wonderful, touching journey.

The ending brought this up from a wonderful book to keeper status. 5 stars!

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