Review of THE PAID COMPANION by Amanda Quick (see her website)
G. P. Putnam's Sons, May 2004
To help distract the 'ton' while he traces his uncle's killer, Earl Arthur St. Merryn decides he needs a fiancee. Since he's already had one fiancee--who fled down a ladder to avoid the marriage, St. Merryn decides to be more logical and hire a fiance through a service that provides paid companions. Elenora Lodge, recently disposessed of her home and most of her property, turns up at the agency just in time. St. Merryn decides that her spirit and enthusiasm would be a perfect match--and that Elenora could be just the actress to persuade society that she was St. Merryn's next fiancee.
Although St. Merryn initially intends to keep Elenora at the outskirts of his plans, she quickly asserts herself, forcing herself into his confidence and, soon enough, into his arms. Neither is particularly good at hiding the attraction they feel for one another although Elenora is convinced that, once the mystery is solved, St. Merryn will get on with her life and that Elenora will be forced to move on with her life. Tracking down the killer is a bit complicated, though, and the interval gives them plenty of time to explore the attraction--and for Elenora to dazzle polite society in Regency England.
Author Amanda Quick (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Quick) always writes a fast-paced and entertaining read and THE PAID COMPANION is no exception. That said, I found Elenora to be quite annoying with her complete lack of respect for St. Merryn's finances, her willingness to simply run over whatever ideas he proposed, and her constant jumping to conclusions when a simple conversation would have avoided the misunderstanding. By constantly giving in to Elenora, St. Merryn comes off as a bit of a wimp. The mystery portion of the book is really a non-starter as we are introduced to no suspects and no clues.
I wanted to like THE PAID COMPANION and Quick's writing is strong enough to keep me reading, but the unlikable characters and weak mystery plot definitely detracted.
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