Yes, readers, all your emails did the trick! Jean was able to convince Paul to read another romance!
Jean says (by way of explanation):
Last December Paul and I "cooperated" on a
review of Connie Mason's (no relative!) Sheik. Actually,
cooperated isn't quite the right word. I was not enjoying the
Mason book and was thinking about just giving up when Paul offered to
read the book and make comments. The resulting feature was pretty
popular, and we promised Dede to do it again sometime.
However, I wanted our next cooperative venture to be somewhat
different. I wanted Paul to read a book by one of the top authors in
the genre. So when Amanda Quick's With This Ring came my way, I
decided that this would be a good book to review together. I also
thought it would be interesting to have someone who had never
read a Quick book review her latest work, especially since I had felt
that her most recent novels were all too formulaic.
Maybe we should begin by asking Paul why he agreed to undertake this
little exercise. So tell our readers, Paul, why?
Well, Jean, I did it to be agreeable. I've always been a person who likes to
give his opinion about all manner of things (You can say that
again! -JHM), so when I was asked to do this, I couldn't resist.
What was your overall response to With This Ring?
Despite the fact that I am an infrequent reader of fiction (I
mostly like black comedies such as Thomas Pynchon's Vineland or
John Barth"s Chimera), I thoroughly enjoyed With This
Ring.The book has an older (well, forty) eccentric hero and a very
adventuresome younger (near thirty) heroine who writes romance novels:
"horrids" in those days. Plus lots of other interesting characters
including a dog and the madame of a brothel (unfortunately, she
specialized in discipline which I have never liked in any form.) All
are caught up in a mystery which, in itself, isn't half bad. And the
book has a great last line. No peeking!
But there is another reason why I like this book. The tone is wry. Wry
romance/sex: that's a tough combination to beat – like those wonderful
thirties and forties comedies before Doris Day and Rock Hudson ruined
them by making them so d**ned obvious.
There is one major flaw. The dog is missing from the concluding scene
of domestic happiness. (Guess who Paul's "best friend"
is? -JHM) But that to one side, my hat is off to Amanda Quick,
whoever she may be. I give this one four hearts, no matter what my wife
may have to say about its fidelity to the regency period.
Paul, did the book hold your interest?
Yes, I was anxious to finish it and find out how it came out.
(He hurried through dinner to get back to the book! -JHM)
It was really fun watching Paul become engrossed with this book
and complain that it might keep him up past his bedtime. That he read
it with such enjoyment suggests that Quick has not lost her touch – and,
indeed, I found this latest novel a little less predictable that
her recent offerings. (Or maybe, since I have skipped her last two, I
was ready to "re-discover" Quick again.)
I, too, liked the hero and heroine. Mrs. Beatrice Poole (who secretly
writes those "horrid" novels) seeks out Leo, the Earl of Monkcrest
(known as "the Mad Monk") because of his expertise with antiquities.
Her uncle has possibly been murdered because the legendary Forbidden
Rings of Aphrodite had come into his possession. The rings are now
missing. Beatrice needs to recover those rings to protect her niece's
inheritance and comes to Monkcrest simply for information. But the earl
decides that he cannot let Beatrice place herself in danger, and so
insists on joining the quest. That the two are immediately attracted to
each other adds spice to their partnership.
Wry – what a descriptive word for Quick's writing! Indeed, With This
Ring is full of her patented wry humor. No one does the quirky hero
and heroine better, nor is more able to convince the reader that they
are made for each other.
A caveat here. What Paul found so appealing – the mystery, the plot,
the intrigue – may actually displease diehard romance fans if they feel
the plot overshadows the romance. But this romance fan found the
developing relationship between two strong-minded, intelligent, and
needy characters quite well done and very satisfying.
So, I guess this will be one of those rare occasions when I agree with
my husband. Four hearts. And yes, it is a great last line!
(Bantam, $23.95, PG-13) ISBN:0-553-10083-1
Readers, this is an experimental column. Please tell us what you think. Would you like to see more men reviewing romance?