>> Tuesday, April 21, 2015
One does not expect to be kidnapped on a London street in broad daylight. Yet Amity Doncaster barely escapes with her life after meeting a man in a black silk mask who whispers the most vile taunts and threats into her ear. Her quick thinking, and her secret weapon, save her - for now.
But the monster known in the press as the Bridegroom has left a trail of female victims in his wake, and will soon be on his feet again. He is unwholesomely obsessed by Amity's scandalous connection to Benedict Stanbridge - and Benedict refuses to let this resourceful, daring woman suffer for her romantic link to him-as tenuous as it may be.
For a man and woman so skilled at disappearing, so at home in the exotic reaches of the globe, escape is always an option. But each intends to end the Bridegroom's reign of terror in the heart of the city they love, which means they must also face feelings neither of them can run away from...
Otherwise Engaged has a very exciting start, one that had me hoping that we were back to vintage Amanda Quick and eager to know what would come next.
Amity Doncaster is an explorer and an adventurer. Her accounts of her travels in the Flying Intelligencer are very popular and have gained her a nice following. Her latest trip has taken her to the Caribbean, and it's while on one of the islands that she hears someone calling her from a dark alley.
Amity is a sensible, intelligent woman, so she doesn't just go haring in. Cautious reconnoitering brings her to Benedict Stanbridge's aid. Benedict has been attacked and left to die in the alley, and he's desperate for someone to take a letter to safety. Amity agrees to do that, but she can do more. Her father was an excellent doctor, and through her travels with him she's learnt enough medical skills to be very good in an emergency. She performs some first aid and helps Benedict back to her ship (where he also has a cabin booked) and nurses him back to health.
He recovers and during their time on board while the ship travels to New York, they become close. But Amity is on her way back to London, while Benedict must go to California, for reasons he can't disclose (just as he can't talk about what happened back in the island and what was in that letter that was so important). He promises he will tell Amity the truth as soon as he's able, though, and promises to look her up when he's back in London.
The action moves to London some months later, when Amity is kidnapped by a serial killer known as The Bridegroom, who's been terrorising London. Amity manages to escape and we're told this makes her notorious for the second time. Why the second time, we readers wonder? A clue might be in why The Bridegroom claims he choose her as his next victim: she must not be allowed to trick an honourable man like Benedict Stanbridge into marriage. Huh? I couldn't wait to find out what was going on.
And then... it all got boring and plodding. Benedict and Amity team up with her sister and a police detective to try to discover the identity of the Bridegroom. There's also stuff going on around the secret mission Benedict was on when he was injured in the island, with someone (probably in the employ of the Russians!) chasing after the stuff he discovered.
That element was pretty bad. The suspense plot was preposterous and overcomplicated. Seriously, the conclusion was ridiculous, with 3 (count them, 3!) different villains operating quasi-independently and with motivations that, in two of the three cases, were basically "this person is insane". And the investigation was painfully predictable. Quick includes a particular scene in every single book she writes. The hero and heroine call on someone for information. They find the place deserted but go in anyway, and find that person collapsed in a pool of blood. Sometimes they're dead, sometimes merely knocked out. But they're always out cold. I sometimes wonder if she does it on purpose, as a sort of challenge. It's annoying, to be honest.
Also, Quick's writing is driving me crazy lately. She is painfully unsubtle. She bangs home every single point and logical deduction several times. It's as if she feels we readers are stupid. To be fair, I have only noticed this since I started listening to her books on audio, so it might be that the mind slides over it without noticing in written format. I'll be reading the next one, rather than listen to it (and I will read the next one; I'm not quite ready to give her up).
My review so far is mainly moaning, but I didn't hate this. The romance is kind of nice, and I liked Amity's sister and the supportive relationship those two have. I also liked the touches of humour, like the housekeeper, who's just as enthusiastic as her bosses about the investigation (and as effective in her enquiries!). And Benedict is cool. He's an engineer and wants nothing more than to be rid off this spy stuff and go back to engineering. Nice characters, all, but pretty thin.
MY GRADE: A C.