Tuesday, April 19, 2016

‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

The author of the New York Times bestseller Garden of Lies returns to Victorian London in an all-new novel of deadly obsession.

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.

Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker...

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I don’t believe I’ve ever done this before in one of my reviews, but I really want to thank the author’s publisher for approving my request on NetGalley for ‘Til Death Do Us Part. I grew up on historical romances and when I happened upon my first Amanda Quick novel at the local used book store & swap shop, I became hooked on her independent heroines and not-quite-perfect heroes (at least by the Ton’s standards). It became my obsession during our monthly visits to scour the book store’s shelves and milk crates full of used books to find the Quick novels I hadn’t yet read until I read all that had been published. Quick’s novels were among the very few that I would save my allowance for in order to buy a brand new book when it was released, including a few hardbacks once I had my first job at sixteen. So much like my recent experience reading Secret Sisters written under the author’s Jayne Ann Krentz pen name, ‘Til Death Do Us Part was a long overdue reunion with a much-loved author, taking me back to my teens when I saved my quarters, scoured shelves, and devoured Quick’s books over a weekend or two.

‘Til Death Do Us Part gave me everything I came to love in Quick’s historical romances, and then some. Rather than fading into the country or becoming bitter in her spinsterhood, Calista Langley seized the opportunity that her grandmother’s passing provided and established a successful business that allowed her to provide for her and her younger brother. Of course, because going into a “trade” was cause for scandal and being shunned by the Ton, Calista’s introductions agency is very exclusive and referrals are provided very discreetly to persons who can appreciate the service that Calista provides. While things have been going well, the recent delivery of some rather disturbing gifts from an unknown sender and the intrusion of Trent Hastings, the brother of one of her female clients, throws Calista’s carefully controlled world into disarray – especially when it becomes clear that the gifts are not from an admirer, but from a stalker who seems to harbor an unhealthy obsession for Calista. I rather enjoyed Calista’s first meeting with Trent and can’t help but think that even without her being on edge because of what she was dealing with, it would have gone down exactly the same way. Fortunately, their second meeting was better timed and had a very exciting outcome with Trent being compelled to channel his inner detective and help Calista determine who seemed to be set on causing her harm. If they just happened to find love along the way, all the better.

I loved the banter and interactions between Calista and Trent. Calista has a dry wit that the author uses to lighten the atmosphere when the characters need it the most. Quick does an excellent job of giving Calista and Trent several plausible suspects and even the things I knew as a reader that they did not, left me wondering if they meant what I thought they meant or if I was just supposed to believe they did – the classic “Can I take it at face value?” conundrum. As I read ‘Til Death Do Us Part it made me realize where my love of romantic suspense novels originated from because Quick writes mystery and suspense skillfully. I found that the balance between the mystery, the action, and the romance made for a wonderful read. Calista and Trent’s siblings were delightful side characters and I loved that Trent’s admiration for Calista’s intelligence and resourcefulness was a consideration he had for his sister as well. As for the whodunit, I was indeed fooled and certainly didn’t expect that part of the storyline to play out as it did. ‘Til Death Do Us Part was, for me, a great adventure and an excellent reunion with a much loved author. I look forward to discovering what books I’ve missed out on in the intervening years.

The author of a string of New York Times bestsellers, Jayne Ann Krentz uses three different pen names for each of her three “worlds.” As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense. Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved these days for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.

“I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names,” she says. “The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books.”

In addition to her fiction writing, she is the editor of, and a contributor to, a non-fiction essay collection, DANGEROUS MEN AND ADVENTUROUS WOMEN: ROMANCE WRITERS ON THE APPEAL OF THE ROMANCE published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  Her commitment to her chosen genre has been strong from the very beginning of her career.  Each year at the annual convention of the Romance Writers of America she participates in a special day-long workshop for librarians and speaks on the importance of the romance genre.

“The romance genre is the only genre where readers are guaranteed novels that place the heroine at the heart of the story,” Jayne says.  “These are books that celebrate women’s heroic virtues and values:  courage, honor, determination and a belief in the healing power of love.”

She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California.  Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.

She is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.

Connect with Jayne

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick to read and review.

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