Thoughts After Reading:
It has been a long time since I've read a novel by Amanda Quick. I tried a couple of her books a few years back, and was not impressed. However, it seems I've been missing out on some excellent storytelling - Quick's novel Ravished is one of the most perfect romance novels I've ever read. It is a charming, sweet, and quite frankly hilarious take on the beauty-and-beast motif. I enjoyed every moment of witty dialogue, most particularly the constant give-and-take by the protagonists. Intertwined with this genuinely developed romance was an action-filled mystery storyline that included not one, not two, but a total of three separate villains. What more could a reader ask for?
For the first time since he had arrived, she appeared to comprehend the fact that Gideon was not altogether pleased by the meeting she had arranged. She tried a tentative smile. "Forgive me, my lord. Was my letter a shade peremptory in tone?"
"That is putting it mildly, Miss Pomeroy."
She nibbled briefly on her lower lip, studying him intently. "I will admit that I have a slight tendency to be a bit, shall we say, blunt?"
"Forceful might be a better word. Or perhaps demanding. Even tyrannical."
The heroine is undoubtedly the highlight of the novel. The twenty-four year old daughter of a deceased vicar, she has no expectations of a London season. But then again, she doesn't particularly care. Her life's passion is paleontology, and the only thing that excites her more than talking about a latest find is digging up a new fossil herself. In addition to being a bit of a chatterbox, she has - conversely - both a flair for the dramatics as well as a refreshingly open personality. The book opens with the hero visiting the heroine in response to her letter involving a "dark menace" that must be handled with "grave discretion." It turns that she has discovered a robber is using a cave to stash his goods - the same cave she explores to unearth remains. So, as the hero is the manor lord of the area, she politely demands that he takes care of the problem immediately and keeps her informed to the progress. As everyone knows, fossil collectors are an unscrupulous lot and may take over "her" cave. For the hero's part, he is greatly entertained by the truly one-of-a-kind woman. He is an unusually large man and has a large scar on his cheek, which the heroine doesn't seem to be bothered by, but most of his "Beastly" persona is not physical. Instead, he is given the nickname "The Beast of Blackthorne Hall" after being blamed for a tragedy he was not responsible for, a responsibility that everyone - including his parents - believe. Even the heroine starts to wonder about the rumors, but - as she is a woman who let's a person's actions stand for themselves - quickly ascertains that the hero is a man of honor. And once she figures that out, she remains staunchly loyal to the hero - repeatedly defending his honor with conviction. The storyline includes the well-used forced marriage resulting from an accidental compromise, but that's about the only thing conventional about it. The steadily growing relationship between the main characters is a joy to watch as they become close friends and proceed to singlehandedly take on the ton, side by side. The romance subplot is blessedly free of angst, and even the small romance conflict makes the appealing choice of comedy over misunderstandings. The heroine doesn't cry or run away, she gives the hero the silent treatment. Trust me, it's funny. The action and mystery sequences keep the reader even further engaged.
Amanda Quick's Ravished is one of those rare books I absolutely loved. The intelligent humor kept me laughing throughout without it becoming a truly lighthearted or silly read. Ever character, protagonist or otherwise, was given a delightfully unique personality. The romance was excellent, the mystery was excellent, the final resolutions were excellent - hell, everything was excellent. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel if you haven't read it already.