Affair, by Amanda Quick

>> Friday, March 14, 2003

I reread Amanda Quick's Affair in February.

After the murder of her scurrilous stepfather, Charlotte Arkendale is left with scant means to care for her younger sister. She opens a discreet investigative service to provide other respectable women with information on prospective suitors. When a client is murdered, Charlotte comes to the attention of Baxter St. Ives, who believes Charlotte is a murderess and seeks to gain employment as her man of affairs. Inevitably, logic (and passion!) convince Baxter of her innocence, and he must protect Charlotte from the deadly adversary determined to destroy them.
I liked this much better now than I did when I first read it. Then, I thought this one didn't even begin to compare with the previous Quicks, but I loved it this time. I was wrong, in her AQ books, the author didn't jump the shark in 1996. She still has "it" in this 1997 release, that closeness and intimacy between the protagonists that is missing in more recent work. My grade for Affair is an A.

The plot is nothing too innovative, though it seems about here AQ started concentrating less on tonnish aristocrats and more in untitled gentlemen and women, and finally left ingenues behind, in favor of stronger heroines. This is a direction I like just as well as the previous one. I found Charlotte and Baxter's occupations very interesting. In fact, Charlotte's was genious, reminiscent of Victoria did in Surrender, sending Bow Street runners to investigate potential suitors for her friend.

Baxter was pure AQ, the guy who thinks himself an unexciting bore, but whose true nature is only seen by the heroine. I loved how he was pretty incapable of demonstrating superficial charm. His relationship with his brother was an especially nice touch.

The suspense subplot was a bit fanciful, but its best feature was that it allowed us to see Charlotte and Baxter working together, Baxter being unusually amenable to Charlotte being his true partner here.

All in all, I'm glad I reread this. My recollections of it were completely off-base. Let's see if With This Ring turns out to be a nice surprise too.

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