Don't Look Back, by Amanda Quick

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I held out as long as I could, but I finally read Don't Look Back, by Amanda Quick. I'd been wanting to save it for a "rainy day", for a time when I absolutely needed something I knew I would like, but what can I say, I'm weak ;-)

A London lady who's skilled in the practice of mesmerism, Lavinia Lake has launched a new career as a private investigator, a startling and slightly scandalous occupation for a woman in Regency England. Strong-willed and independent, Lavinia isn't a typical society widow, a fact which alternately attracts and frustrates her enigmatic partner, Tobias March. Lavinia and Tobias have a prickly and passionate relationship, and Tobias is determined to protect her, while Lavinia is just as determined to be an equal partner in their business.

When the wife of mesmerist Dr. Howard Hudson is murdered and a rare antique bracelet known as the Blue Medusa disappears, the doctor seeks Lavinia's help. Tobias is reluctant to become involved in the matter but Lavinia feels compelled to help her late father's associate. Their attempt to uncover the murderer leads them to obscure antiquities dealers, secret organizations, amoral heirs, and ladies of the evening. And when a madman threatens Lavinia's life, only Tobias can hope to save her.
Don't Look Back is a sequel to Slightly Shady, and it's a sequel starring the same protagonists, á la Eve and Roarke. It was pretty enjoyable, but definitely not as good as this author's best works. Still, compared to what's out there, I'd give it a B.

The main problem is that Quick seems to be concentrating more on the suspense than on the romance lately. And let's face it, suspense was never this author's strong point. In her early books, the suspense subplots were always insubstantial and perfuntory, but when they started to be more prominent, she seemed to start creating mysteries which were a bit too complex. I mean, I don't want something too straighforward, but having too many villains, each with a different motivation and committing different crimes, is too much.

I would have loved to see more of Lavinia and Tobias' relationship. They are really cute together, and I like the way Quick has been developing their relationship slowly. Also, I enjoyed the secondary romances, both Anthony and Emeline and the very sketchy one between Joan Dove and a new "beau". I liked what there was, but I wanted more of it, not more of the suspense subplot.

Oh, well, I know I'll keep buying this author's books, but I really wish she hadn't gone in this direction.


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