Lie By Moonlight, by Amanda Quick

>> Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lie By Moonlight (excerpt) is Amanda Quick's latest HC release. I know most people think she jumped the shark years ago, and I might even have to agree, but I still find her books to be wonderful comfort reads.

Welcome back to Late Victorian England—and meet the last Master of Vanza...

During an investigation into a woman's death, gentleman thief turned private inquiry agent Ambrose Wells finds himself at Aldwick Castle—and in the middle of chaos. The building is in flames. Men are dead. And a woman and four young girls are fleeing on horseback...

Concordia Glade has never met anyone like Ambrose Wells. He is bold, clever, and inscrutable—even to the perceptive gaze of a professional teacher such as herself. He is also her only hope to protect her pupils from the unscrupulous men who are after them, powerful, shadowy figures who will stop at nothing to get what they want...
Reading LBM for the first time felt almost as if I was rereading it. The characters, the writing, the plot, it all felt definitely familiar. And yet, it was such an enjoyable, comfortable kind of familiar, that I did like the book, and quite a bit. My grade for it would be a B, though I admit, if I weren't such a JAK fan-girl, a more fitting grade might be a C+.

As in so many JAK/AQ books, the book starts right in the middle of the action, as teacher Concordia Glade and her four pupils are implementing their plans to escape from Aldwick Castle. Not long after her arrival at the castle, Concordia (who, for some reason, I kept calling Cordelia) had become quite suspicious about the circumstances there, and her fears were cemented when she overheard a conversation which implied there was an auction coming up, in which her young students would have been sold off.

Never one to wring her hands helplessly and hope to be rescued, Concordia directs the girls in a daring escape plan, which includes explosive devices set off to generate chaos and distraction, in the midst of which they are supposed to sneak off. But things don't go exactly as planned, and they are rescued by a mysterious man who shows up in the nick of time and leads them to safely, and then to his house in London.

That man is Ambrose Wells, and Concordia's well-laid plans ruined his well-laid plans. Ambrose spends his time as a kind of enquiry agent, and that night he was at the castle investigating the seemingly accidental death of a young woman. His early investigations had pointed towards a well-known crime lord, and he was hoping to get some information on him from his associates, who were at the castle. But once he got there, he found things in a shambles and all he could do was take Concordia and the girls and spirit them off to where they couldn't be found.

There was so much I liked here! Concordia and Ambrose are both mature grown-ups, and I loved the way their attraction wasn't just physical (though there is an element of that there!). No, the main attraction is that with each other, they don't feel the loneliness they had been feeling before in their lives. I also enjoyed that they are never antagonists, but recognize immediately that it would be a good idea to cooperate, which they do without much fuss. As I've said, I've read them both a thousand times before, especially in the most recent AQ books, but I enjoyed them anyway.

The suspense subplot was a bit lackluster, and I did wish there had been more time spent on Concordia and Ambrose rather than on following the investigation step by step, but at least it wasn't excessively convoluted, as some of this author's latest plots have been.

All in all, it was a very nice way to spend a few hours. AQ's next book, Second Sight, is coming in May, and it looks good!


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