Review

The River Knows

by Amanda Quick

"This is the thing with an illicit affair….It cannot end
happily." Oh, but yes it can --- and it does --- in Amanda Quick's
latest romance novel, THE RIVER KNOWS. Where love and romance and
excitingly dangerous liaisons are concerned, "There are exceptions
to every rule" --- and we wouldn't have it any other way. Amanda
Quick, a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, shows us the way to
romantic bliss.

Steamy Victorian passion and devastating kisses are what fans of
Quick desire. The New York Times bestselling author
reveals that the Victorian Age was not quite so straight-laced
after all. It was a time of romantic trysts inside the crested
carriages that clop-clop-clopped down foggy London streets, long
walks in moonlit gardens that led to stolen moments behind large,
perfectly trimmed bushes. The seclusion and humidity of the
conservatory provided a private location for the passion that
novelists and playwrights wrote about. Lovers seeking to ravish and
indulge their passions stole away from elegant balls for
exhilarating interludes.

Not only do we enjoy a peek behind closed carriages, we also read
that there were many bright, educated and talented women who
secretly and/or openly engaged in journalism, playwriting, painting
and mercantilism. Some even presided successfully as a scantily
clad brothel Madam. In a time when it was common for a young woman
to wait patiently until she was swept off her feet by a wealthy,
handsome Lord, it is refreshing to read here about a Victorian
family with "razor-sharp intelligence and forceful willpower" and
the young women who forged the very beginnings of the sexual
revolution.

THE RIVER KNOWS revolves around Louisa Bryce, who has a secret that
only her employer, Lady Ashton, knows --- one that surely would
send her to jail. Louisa is determined to flush out the rogues of
Society by writing tabloid articles under the name "I.M. Phantom"
for the Flying Intelligencer, a "disreputable paper that
thrives on the most lurid sensations." Louisa's romantic experience
is limited to what she has read in sensation novels; she is
captivated by the portrayal of illicit passion as a "transcendent
experience."

When Louisa meets Anthony Stalbridge, a handsome member of Society
with impeccable bloodlines, at the Hammond ball, Louisa falls in
love at that first moment. Louisa undertakes a brazen quest to
expose the shocking activities within Polite Society, including the
murder of Fiona Risby, Anthony Stalbridge's fiancé. Louisa and
Anthony find themselves in intimate circumstances as they delve
into the business affairs and blackmail schemes of Elwin Hastings,
a prominent member of Society who is at the center of several
mysterious deaths. Anthony fears that he failed to protect Fiona
from the circumstances that led to her suicide in the river Thames.
The clues take the reader from brothels to an attempt on Anthony's
life in London's Arden Park to clandestine meetings in foggy alleys
and straight to Elwin Hastings's former wife --- who comes back
from the murky waters to expose Hastings.

When the servants have the afternoon off, the young lovers bring to
life a scene from one of the many sensation novels Louisa has read.
Anthony leaves Louisa breathless with kisses and the "transcendent
experience" of an illicit tryst. However, danger lurks as the pair
gets closer to the truth behind the deaths, and Anthony must rely
on his eccentric family to help him save Louisa from the depths of
a darkened dungeon.

The "Polite World" of Victorian London had its share of secrets,
romantic trysts, villains and marriages based on money, property
and family connections. What I was surprised to learn was that
Louisa possessed a "wide assortment of sensation
novels…filled with stories of illicit love affairs." Quick's
books portray an age of privilege and passions, contrary to the
belief that Victorian London was staid and proper. 

Novels of romantic bliss are not without peril and insecurities.
Matters of the heart are mostly complicated, and Louisa finds
herself thinking, "Live for the here and now; it is all you will
ever have with Anthony." If you believe, as I do, that it's
possible to fall in love (or lust) at first sight, then prepare to
abandon yourself to the fantasy of romantic bliss a la Amanda
Quick.

Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 23, 2011

The River Knows
by Amanda Quick

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399154175
  • ISBN-13: 9780399154171