Book #2 in the Looking Glass Trilogy
Book #11 in the Arcane Society series
Quick is back with another book set in the Arcane Society and the nineteenth century. Another new facet of paranormal senses is explored: glass reading. As in Quick’s other novels, the heroine’s talents are underestimated and devalued. In general, this is a skill that is dismissed as not very valuable, bordering upon charlatanism. Virginia Dean is a glass reader; she is able to sense the past events reflected in mirrors. She comes to the attention of Owen Sweetwater, of the infamous assassin Sweetwater clan, because several glass readers have been murdered. His assistance in solving their murders is requested by J & J, the Arcane Society investigation office. Due to his surveillance, she is saved from a perilous situation that would have also framed her for murder of a prominent and sadistic man. Virginia and Owen join forces. They explore possible leads and use their unique psychical powers to unearth the truth. Along the way, and propelled by the adrenaline fueled escapades, they fall in love and lust.
I enjoyed this book overall and would give it a 3 1/2 stars out of 5. Although there were some weaknesses, it was well written and engaging. In fact, the weaknesses of this book are not specific to this book necessarily, but rather apply to many of Jayne Anne Krentz’s, aka Amanda Quick, recent books.
Quicksilver by Amanda Quick did not break any new ground. It followed the formula of previous Arcane Society novels. That is, a new paranormal skill is explored, romance ensues, and villainous secret society plots the downfall of the Arcane Society. I don’t normally mind this formulaic technique, except that Quick combined it with her traditional historical romance formula. Quick’s protagonists are usually a woman in her late twenties, often considered to be too bookish, scandalous, undesirable or on the shelf, and the hero is a tormented soul who is tall, dark, and dangerous. This couple is drawn together by dangerous circumstances and they solve a mystery together and find lasting love as well. Despite these familiar tropes, I did enjoy the story. I just wish Krentz would mix it up a little. However, this technique has won her fame, money, and a best selling status – it’s hard to argue with that!
I also though the villains in Quicksilver were poorly motivated. Mental illness accounted for some of it, and heaven knows that that isn’t reasonable, but I wondered if the villains would have rationally chosen the action they did based upon the information they had when they were supposedly sane.
Finally, my last complaint is a pet peeve over the use of the word “psychical” as an adjective. It feels awkward and pretentious. I guess I’m just used to modifying words with the adjective “psychic” instead. It actually bothered me enough that I looked it up. I admit it: psychical is a real word and a real adjective. >_< I still don't like it. 😉
This book was enjoyable, and I would recommend it to others who like historical romances with a splash of the paranormal thrown in. I thought it was well written. The pace was good, and the dialogue snappy. I thought the mystery was suspenseful (full disclosure: I do not read mysteries), and I liked the paranormal elements. The woo-woo factor is not very high. No one is able to move objects with their minds or levitate. Rather, their psychic skills were extensions of their normal senses.
I also enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Mrs. Crofton. Mrs. Crofton is Virginia Dean's housekeeper. Throughout the novel, Virginia is worried that Mrs. Crofton will leave her employ because of the unusual events taking place. After all, while it may be fashionable to dabble in paranormal activities at that time, it certainly was not acceptable to actually have them or use them. Luckily for Virginia, Mrs. Crofton is made of sterner stuff and becomes a staunch friend.
I would recommend books by Stephanie Laurens or Julia Quinn to readers who enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, and Mary Jo Putney for readers who liked the paranormal mixed in with historical England.