Putnam Adult / April 22, 2014 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital
One does not expect to be kidnapped on a London street in broad daylight. But Amity Doncaster barely escapes with her life after she is trapped in a carriage with a blade-wielding man in a black silk mask who whispers the most vile taunts and threats into her ear. Her quick thinking, and her secret weapon, save her . . . for now.
But the monster known in the press as the Bridegroom, who has left a trail of female victims in his wake, has survived the wounds she inflicts and will soon be on his feet again. He is unwholesomely obsessed by her scandalous connection to Benedict Stanbridge—gossip about their hours alone in a ship’s stateroom seems to have crossed the Atlantic faster than any sailing vessel could. Benedict refuses to let this resourceful, daring woman suffer for her romantic link to him—as tenuous as it may be.
For a man and woman so skilled at disappearing, so at home in the exotic reaches of the globe, escape is always an option. But each intends to end the Bridegroom’s reign of terror in London, and will join forces to do so. And as they prepare to confront an unbalanced criminal in the heart of the city they love, they must also face feelings that neither of them can run away from. . . .
Jayne Ann Krentz has been writing under the pseudonym Amanda Quick since 1998, so long-time readers know what to expect inside the covers—a unique-for-her-time heroine about to set off on an adventure of a lifetime, accompanied by an honorable, principled and dashing (at least to her) hero. And that is exactly what you will find in Ms. Quick’s latest release, Otherwise Engaged.
Miss Amity Doncaster is adventurous, courageous, spirited, and resourceful. It is this resourcefulness that enables her to save the life of a fellow passenger from the North Star, after she finds him ambushed in a Caribbean alley, hurt and bleeding profusely.
Being a doctor’s daughter has its advantages, so she knows exactly what to do for Benedict Stanbridge. Since they are both traveling together, she is able to nurse him back to health.
During their travels they become close, but Benedict is on a mission, leading him to California, while Miss Amity plans to travel back to London. The night before the ship docks, their kiss holds much promise, but then Benedict fails to keep in touch.
Back in London, malicious and untrue rumors of their time together are spread among society’s elite, bring her to the attention of The Bridegroom, a serial killer whose mission is to rid the upper classes of tainted goods. While terrified at her planned death, Amity’s quick thinking and her secret weapon allow her to escape, causing her to be more infamous.
Amity has always been uncomfortable and ill at ease in polite society, as evidenced by her failed presentation at nineteen. Now her notoriety causes her to cringe at the thought of traversing through the aristocracy and wealthy. But these are the women who have the money to purchase her book and ensure her success as a writer:
Penny surprised her with a knowing look. “You have hiked in the wilderness of the American West and the jungles of the South Seas. You survived a shipwreck and confronted a would-be thief in a San Francisco hotel room. You have ridden a camel and an elephant. To top it off you are now the only women in London know to have survived an attack by a criminal who has killed three women thus far. Yet you quail at the very thought of having to deal with the social world.”
But Amity must gather up her courage because once Benedict returns, he insists that they enter into a fictitious engagement until the gossip dies down. Now normally Amity would just ride it out, but Benedict knows exactly how she thinks:
"Now you have been attacked because of that gossip. I am in your debt and I would very much appreciate it if you would allow me to try to repay it.”
“By pretending to be my fiancé?” she asked in disbelief.
“Until the police find the killer,” Benedict said.
“What if they fail?” she asked.
“Then we shall have to do their work for them.”
It had been a stab in the dark, but he had made it based on what he knew of her personality. She was, above all else, extremely curious and intrigued by the prospect of adventure. It was that spirit that had compelled her to travel the world.
He knew at once his strategy was working. Amity suddenly glowed with excitement.
Of course finding a serial killer is not the only adventures that Miss Doncaster embarks on. She elects to take a lover:
“Are you all right?” he said into her ear.
“I think so,” she said. “It is certainly no worse than riding a camel.”
He uttered an exclamation that sounded like a cross between a growl and a laugh.
There are plenty of twists and turns as the search leads then from one direction to another as Benedict, Amity, her sister Penny, and Inspector Logan from Scotland Yard use all their ingenuity and five senses (no sixth senses here) to uncover not only a spy, but a murderer:
“Damnation.” Benedict flattened his palms on Penny’s desk and glared at the names on the sheet of paper in front of him. “He’s not even on the guest list. No wonder we weren’t getting anywhere with our inquiries.”
While this book is part of the Lantern Street Series set in Victorian England, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Otherwise Engaged offers plenty of humor, sassiness, romance, and mystery to keep you entertained.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick, out April 22:
Leigh Davis, blogger