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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

Quicksilver by Amanda Quick
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (327 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Virginia Dean wakes at midnight beside a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand and no memory of the evening's events. Dark energy, emanating from the mirrors lining the room, overpowers her senses. With no apparent way in or out, she is rescued by a man she has met only once before, but won't soon forget.

Owen Sweetwater inherited his family's talent for hunting the psychical monsters who prey on London's women and children, and his investigation into the deaths of two glass-readers has led him here. The high-society types of the exclusive Arcane Society would consider Virginia an illusionist, a charlatan, even a criminal, but Owen knows better. Virginia's powers are real-and they just might be the key to solving this challenging case.

Sometimes I need a book that has light action, dark secrets and mystery, and a romance that soothes the senses and I always seem to find it when reading a story by Amanda Quick.

Some might say that the format is formulaic and they could be right. However, I’ve read enough stories by Ms. Quick to count on it and find it 100% positive. I needed that teasing sensual build-up between Virginia Dean and Owen Sweetwater, I needed the light drama and suspense and I required a book that would entertain me enough to forget looking at the clock. I wanted to simply enjoy myself with a tale that swept me away to a time and place where the odd and spooky were normal and indeed, presented as almost logical. I demanded a guaranteed good time and Ms. Quick delivered.

Virginia Dean is a character that is a delightful change from the typical historical heroine. She’s in ‘trade’, educated and mostly self-sufficient. She’s not easily thrown by deed or word and even when she’s threatened with diabolical paranormal weapons, this woman never resorts to swooning. She has a brain and is not afraid to use it. The heroine also has an almost child-like fascination with learning new skills and her excitement is contagious. Her willingness and enthusiasm for such mundane and obscure things ends up being the key to saving her life. She also has a very odd notion of bling. Only a reader of the story will understand my reference. I liked her generosity of spirit, her voice that comes through in the dialogue and her choice of friends. Virginia was fun to get to know.

Owen Sweetwater is fascinating. In fact, his whole family has enough secrets and know-how to fuel many stories to come. They’re an odd bunch with more twisted paranormal burdens than usual. I appreciated how Ms. Quick enlightened the heroine and reader alike about the family’s peccadilloes through dialogue and action. It almost seems like they are supermen who can do amazing things. However, they’re regular people which means that the use of their talents come at a price. What I found adorable is that one of the ‘cures’, seems to be love. As with all stories based on that emotion, it’s a rocky and tricky road to travel before it can blossom into a happily ever after. Of course Owen has some serious obstacles to overcome before he can breathe easy and that contributed to the book’s drama.

The conflict, besides Owen and Virginia overcoming their differences and getting to know one another, is a mystery of who killed who and why. The why of it, once explained, is bizarre and totally off the wall, but again, a reader will understand the depths of its ludicrousness when they get to that part in the story. If a reader is paying attention, Ms. Quick actually provided a solid clue as to the villain’s identity. I picked up on it but like the masterful storyteller she is, the author threw in a big surprise that made it even better and heightened the suspense.

I enjoyed Virginia’s friend, Charlotte. Dr. Spinner, though completely off-screen, has got my curiosity piqued and those that I’ve met of Owen’s family, were entertaining and interesting. Then there is the family connection for Virginia that was a nice touch. It wasn’t crucial to the solving of the mystery itself but it did help showcase the heroine’s personality, integrity and ability to think on her feet. It helps a reader understand her character more.

Quicksilver once again shows why stories by Ms. Quick are an auto-buy. They have re-readability, characters with interesting dialogue, unusual and flamboyant take-over-the-world plots and a well-crafted romance to steam the pages. With its chapters populated by such eccentric characters who contrive convoluted means to further their devious goals, it brings to mind the old television series, The Avengers, with Steed and Mrs. Peel. In a way, Owen and Virginia could be their historical counterparts and I think that’s really cool. Quicksilver is pure fun and entertainment, just the way I like it.