The Paid Companion, by Amanda Quick

>> Monday, November 01, 2004

I'd heard The Paid Companion being compared to Amanda Quick's older books, so I just had to read it!

The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman. His intentions are purely practical—he simply wants someone sensible and suitably lovely to pose as his betrothed for a few weeks among polite society. He has his own agenda to pursue, and a false fiancée will keep the husband-hunters at bay while he goes about his business. The simplest solution is to hire a paid companion.
Finding the right candidate proves more of a challenge than he expected. But when he encounters Miss Elenora Lodge, the fire in her golden eyes sways him to make a generous offer.

Her sorry financial circumstances—and dreams of a life of independence—convince her to accept. But St. Merryn appears to be hiding a secret or two, and things seem oddly amiss in his gloomy London home. Elenora soon discovers that this lark will be a far more dangerous adventure than she'd been led to believe. And the Earl of St. Merryn will find that the meek and mild companion he'd initially envisioned has become a partner in his quest to catch a killer—and an outspoken belle of the ball who stirs a bothersome passion in his practical heart.
Well, it does feel, in a way I can't really pin-point, more similar to earlier AQs than some of her more recent books, but I still found elements of what I haven't been liking so much about the author lately. I guess I could call it a small step forward. My grade: a B-.

The romance had a lot of potential. Arthur and Elenora are two outsiders, who find in each other the understanding they haven't been able to find anywhere else. I loved the way they immediately clicked and instinctively knew who the other was. This was what I meant when I said some things were as good as in early books, in Quick's latest I'd felt very little chemistry between her protagonists.

It could have been better, though, if more space had been devoted to it. There's still too much emphasis on the convoluted and, unfortunately, uninteresting suspense subplot, and the romance suffers for it, especially in the end.

Also, it may sound shallow, but the book needed a bit more sex, in my opinion. The mental attraction was wonderfully done, but the sexual attraction and the love scenes could have been better. Quick used to write such great love scenes, scenes which were not gratuitous in the least and served to further develop the romance.

Still, it was an entertaining book, and very much a comfort read.


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