Financially straitened and on the path to spinsterhood, Venetia Milton thought her stay at the remote, ramshackle Arcane House would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engineer her own ravishment. She was there to photograph the artifacts collected by a highly secretive organization, founded two centuries earlier by an alchemist. And the alchemist's descendant-her employer, Gabriel Jones-has the eyes of a sorcerer.
But despite Venetia's intent to seduce Mr. Jones and move on, she is shattered upon her return home to read in the press of his violent demise. Using the sizable fee Mr. Jones paid her, Venetia establishes a new life, opening a gallery in London. Of course, posing as a respectable widow makes it easier to do business, so-in a private tribute to her lost, only lover-she assumes the identity of "Mrs. Jones."
Her romantic whim, however, will cause unexpected trouble. For one thing, Mr. Jones is about to stride, living and breathing, back into Venetia's life. And the two share more than a passionate memory-indeed, they are bonded by a highly unusual sort of vision, one that goes far beyond Venetia's abilities as a photographer. They also share a terrible threat-for someone has stolen a centuries-old notebook from Arcane House that contains a formula believed to enhance psychic powers of the kind Gabriel and Venetia possess. And the thief wants to know more-even if he must kill the keeper of the Arcane Society's treasures, or the photographer who catalogued them, to obtain such knowledge.
This is the 1st book in the Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick crossover Arcane Society series. I have read all the ones by her JAK name and am now working on the rest. After having read one previous AQ book (Lie By Moonlight) and being far from impressed I was hesitant to read more. But as I found I really liked the Arcane Society books I felt that I needed to read all of them and not just the contemporary ones.
Originally I started listening to this on unabridged audio and found that I was not enjoying the reader. I thought that her voice made the heroine sound like an uppity bitch which is a far cry from what Venetia really was. After listening to half of it and finding my opinion of the book was not good I opted to grab the paperback copy I had and finish it off. I should have done this in the beginning really.
Once I started reading it myself I found that I enjoyed the characters much more and Venetia's stubborn stand on independence was acceptable whereas when I listened to it on audio she came across as childish to me. Her siblings (Amelia and Edward) also vastly improved in my eyes. The reader had Edward sounding like a child barely out of nappies (at least that is how I perceived him to be while listening.) Gabriel also came across as more of a hero than an overbearing bully.
Amanda Quick does an excellent job of combining romance and intrigue in this book. The mystery behind who stole the artifact from the Arcane house was compelling even though the reader does have the baddie's identity early on. In addition to the main baddie it appears there are others involved and many people are not exactly who they appear.
As this is a historical romance that has a female lead who supports her family with a photography business we as readers are reminded by character actions and statements that this is an unusual event and once Venetia's "husband" come back from the grave so to speak it is a society "given" that he will take over the business end of her studio. Venetia struggles with this on a personal level even though she knows that this is custom and it grates on her that women are still "lessers" in the eyes of society and men in general. Her way of coping with it is to assure her clients that her husband is a modern thinking man and has no problem with her continuing to run her business as she sees fit. Although this information is rehashed many times throughout the book it doesn't seem repetitive because had this been a piece of non-fiction we would have seen the same struggle from our heroine because of the time it took place. Although the book did not give a specific date it does say it takes place mostly in London during the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign. So my guess is that it takes place almost at the turn of the century somewhere between 1885-1900.
Overall, I would say that this was a pretty good book. I wish I had just read it myself because it might have been even better. I am giving this book 4 stars. I will get the next one in the series also by her Amanda Quick persona called The Third Circle. I am looking forward to it.