The Perfect Poison
By Amanda Quick
Putnam, April 21, 2009
Historical Romantic Suspense
Scandal—the stuff Victorian society thrives on. Botanist and member of the Arcane Society, Lucinda Bromley found herself embroiled in the juiciest kind of scandal when she was suspected in her fiancé’s death by poisoning, followed by her father’s suicide. Since then she has been ostracized by society. But Lucinda is no ordinary botanist. She has the paranormal ability to detect poison and volunteers her services to the police in suspected poisoning cases. When called in to inspect the body of a member of society, Lucinda is shocked to detect that the man was indeed poisoned and by a poison concocted using a very rare fern. The very fern that was stolen from her conservatory earlier. Fearing she may be arrested and convicted of the man’s murder, Lucinda only tells the police that he was poisoned, but doesn’t mention the fern. She calls on psychical investigator, Caleb Jones, to find the thief who stole her fern.
Caleb, also a member of the Arcane Society founded by his ancestor, has the psychic ability to work percentages and solve problems by connecting seemingly unconnected facts. Believing Lucinda’s case may lead him to the man he’s been searching for, he agrees to take the case. As the two paranormal sleuths work together to solve the crime and save Lucinda from prison, passion ignites and leads to a romantic relationship. Because of his relationship to the founder who went mad, Caleb believes he too is slowly descending into madness, which prevents him from offering marriage.
I’m a huge fan of the Jayne Ann Krentz books written under her pseudonym, Amanda Quick. I fell in love with the Quick stories years ago when I picked up a copy of Ravished in a used bookstore. After that I searched for her books everywhere, now I preorder them. Although I love paranormal, I found the Arcane Society series a little lacking when compared to the author’s previous works. So, when I received her newest, The Perfect Poison, I didn’t start reading it immediately as I’d always done before. Now that I’ve had a chance to read Quick’s newest, I’m happy to see the author’s writing is returning somewhat to the older style. I found the suspense in this one a little weak, but the romance was lovely and the mystery interesting.
We met Caleb in a previous book and I was thrilled to finally get his story. I adored both Lucinda and Caleb. The way their romance develops is both delightful and refreshing. I like it when the hero and heroine know what they want and go about getting it without so much dillydallying and wishy washy excuses to keep them apart. The internal conflict was there because of Caleb’s possible decent to madness, but although this keeps him from offering marriage, it doesn’t keep him from passionately pursuing an intimate and professional relationship with Lucinda. I can take or leave sex scenes in a story, but the love scene in the drying shed between Lucinda and Caleb was one of the best and most romantic I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Ms. Quick is a master of words and a phenomenal storyteller. I especially love her unique use of verbs that bring a sentence immediately to life.
So, although I still found the book not quite up to the standards of the earlier Amanda Quick stories, it was close and I highly recommend it to any reader who loves Victorian romance with light suspense.