Pros:Quick's makes readers want to get involved in the plot.
Cons:Quick never tells why the blackmailer, Herbert Hoyt, claimed Marcus was dead.
The Bottom Line: Mistress is a keeper.
Part romantic and part mystery writer, Amanda Quick, a pseudonym for Jayne Castle, weaves an intriguing tale in “Mistress.” The story’s heroine, Iphigenia Bright enters the Victorian Age’s high society under the guise of being a former mistress to Marcus Cloud, Earl of Masters. She is gravely mistaken when she puts her faith in the rumor that Masters is rusticating on a country estate or dead according to a blackmailer’s note.
Her ruse is designed to give her entry into the haute ton while Masters is out of sight. Her intentions are to discover which member of the ton is blackmailing her Aunt Zoe. Knowing that Zoe’s deceased husband and Masters played cards with several of the same members, these mutual acquaintances is where she begins her search. When Masters walks in during the middle of a ball to confront his former mistress whom he has never met before, she faints in his arms. As he whisks her out of the ballroom and safely returns her to her own abode, the questions fester inside of him. Who is this woman whom society has dubbed Lady Starlight? Is she a social climber, a spy or worse a blackmailer? When a close female friend of his is also being blackmailed, Masters decides to keep a closer watch on his mistress in-name-only. Emotions are stirred making both a sentimental and hormonal attachment as Iphigenia and Masters join forces in their endeavor to uncover the blackmailer’s identity.
Quick’s style of writing draws the reader into the plot and the plight of her characters. Though she blurs the line between deceit and noble actions as Iphigenia deceives society into believing she was Masters’ mistress, it’s a scheme with altruistic purposes behind it. As the story unfurls, readers see that everything is not as it seems demonstrating that layers of one’s façade need to be peeled away before the truth can be uncovered. In her heroine’s estimation, deceiving others is the only way to catch a deceiver.
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