Amanda Quick
1997 reissue of 1996 release, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Bantam, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0553571907

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

Mischief is the kind of humorous, sexy, light, and romantic novel fans of Amanda Quick have come to cherish. Better than Mystique, her last effort, this book is more on a par with Rendezvous, Scandal, and Mistress.

Amanda Quick, the pen name used by Jayne Ann Krentz when writing historicals, does not write "important" romances. What she does write are well-crafted, wonderfully written stories. Nothing earth-shattering, although the author is very skilled at subtlety incorporating important themes such as honor, family, morality, and intellectual curiosity in her work. The result is that her books satisfy the reader's need for fairly immediate gratification.

Mischief is no exception. The heroine is, bright, funny, and on the shelf a la Scandal. She is beautiful, country-bred and raised a la Dangerous. She was raised by rather bohemian parents a la - well, you get the idea. She is also quite determined, as Quick's heroines tend to be. Immodest Imogen, as she is known, is also passionate and, in her exuberance for life, ah, clumsy. So she is more than just a bit . . . odd for the times.

Her hero, the notoriously known Cold-Blooded Colchester, is magnificent. Matthias Marshall, the Earl of Colchester, is glorious from his muscular body to the silver streak of hair that matches his intensely silver stare. A discoverer of a lost culture, he is a man with nerves of steel, unafraid to sleep in a sarcophagus and unafraid of Imogen's reputation or intelligence. He is quite a dashing figure - I liked him a lot.

In typical Quick fashion, these two characters are not accepted by Society. Imogen is considered a "fallen" woman while Matthias, on the one-hand known to always fulfill a promise, is on the other hand considered a dishonorable man. In typical Quick fashion, Society is wrong. As the plot thickens, and yes, the schemes involved are rather incredible (and in one case down-right incredulous), Imogen and Matthias discover their passion for the lost world of Zamar, is not the only passion they share. They are passionate for one another, in body, mind, and soul.

Imogen needs Matthias, whom she mistakenly believes to have delicate sensibilities, to carry out a scheme of revenge on the man she believes murdered her best friend. Against his better judgment, he gets carried up in her plan, and in an effort to protect her, gets carried away by her beauty and intelligence. In turn, she gets carried away by the passions they share.

Mischief is a witty and romantic tale. The author uses Imogen's clumsiness and mistaken belief in Matthias' "delicate sensibilities" to create some wonderfully funny scenes. The physical passion shared by this hero and heroine is well-written. The characterizations of both the lead characters and the secondary characters are Quick at her best. The story and characters are tautly constructed to maximize the reader's enjoyment.

While Imogen is mistaken about Matthias' delicate nerves, she is not mistaken in her beliefs about him as a man and person. Mischief derives its tension from Matthias' growth and acceptance of himself not as the man seen by Society as cold-blooded, but from the reality of who he is and who he can be with the help of his lady love. Both lead characters need their nightmares to be replaced by dreams that can come true.

This is not to say this book is perfect. For readers who need intensity of emotion and characterization, this book will not satisfy. And, some of the relationships and schemes are incredible, especially in how the villains are connected to a tidbit of conversation offered at the start of the book. But to fully enjoy a book by Amanda Quick, the reader has to accept what the author does offer in the way of humor, romance, and the sheer joy of story-telling. The reader also has to be aware of the author's oh-so-subtle incorporation of important themes so as not to dismiss her work as superficial.

Finally, this book is a hardback, selling for $22.95. I find it difficult to say any book is worth that much. So for those of you who can wait a year or so for this book to be released in paperback, you should. But, if you are like me, you won't be able to wait. And, if you are a true fan of this author, you should enjoy this book.

LLB: Since I initially read Mischief some months ago, I read Deception, published three years earlier by the same author. While many fans of Amanda Quick have come to, if not appreciate, than at the very least, accept the similarities in character types and stories, I was dismayed at how similar the two books are. Both stand alone as B's, but together they read as though Quick plagiarized herself. Readers beware.

-- Laurie Likes Books

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