Ravished by Amanda Quick
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
“It was a scene straight out of a nightmare. Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, stood on the threshold and gazed into the cheerful little anteroom of hell.”
With an opener like that, who on earth could refrain from continuing? Before I continue, I must warn you that, despite the horror-like opener, this novel is, in actuality, an historical romance. And an excellent one at that. The title would put most people off (I mean, who wants to get caught reading a book titled Ravished? Talk about awkward.), myself included. Luckily for me, I had already read several of Quick’s (a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz) other novels and enjoyed them so much that I decided to give this one a chance. And enjoyed the naughty novel just as much as I would a sinful triple chocolate cake, and there were no calories whatsoever to regret later.
The title, Ravished, actually has several meanings when it comes to the novel itself. First, and most important, Gideon, the hero, is accused of ravishing his fiancé, then ending the engagement when he found out she was pregnant. Which leads to the second meaning. Because of the accusation, Gideon’s reputation is ravished. And finally, the best meaning, Gideon thoroughly ravishes the heroine, Harriet Pomeroy, and she, of course, returns the favor.
Harriet is an extremely interesting choice for a heroine. Not only is she quite on the shelf (a term in those days meaning is over twenty, unmarried, with no prospects whatsoever), but she is a fossil hunter. It is this occupation that leads her to Gideon. The caves she searches for fossils in are also being used by some smugglers. The caves are on Gideon’s land, so she writes him a letter demanding that he come to town and get rid of them. Which is a very surprising action for a woman in the Victorian era of England. Not only is she demanding, but she is stubborn and has no need for any social niceties. Which makes her a perfect match for Gideon because he, too, is demanding, stubborn and a bit of a recluse.
In the process of capturing the smugglers, Harriet is captured and taken into the caves. She manages to get away, but the only way to go is deeper into the caves. Luckily, Gideon comes to the rescue. Not so luckily, they get stuck in the caves and are forced to spend the night alone together. Luckily for them, their lust for each other provides quite a bit of warmth, so they don’t freeze their butts off. Not so luckily for Harriet, who wants to marry only for love, Gideon feels he must offer for her hand in marriage the next day, and she is forced to accept. Luckily, they are both heading right down the road to love and happiness.
First, though, they must figure out who the mastermind is behind the smuggling ring, learn to get along together, avoid friends with good intentions and bad ideas, avoid ex-friends with malicious intentions, crush the rumors about Gideon’s past, and find a way to make Gideon and his father get along. Which makes for an amusing, fast-paced, exciting plot, despite the seemingly endless side stories.
I had a good time reading this novel, mainly because all of the characters are so realistic, and most of them are quite endearing. I think that there probably should have been a bit more focus on figuring out the mastermind behind the smuggling ring since the whole story revolves around catching them, and the ending was a bit abrupt, but touching and humorous enough to make up for the lack. Otherwise, I have no complaints, and wholeheartedly recommend it. It is, in my opinion, one of the better historical romances by Quick/Krentz.