A re-read from my youth, this one is.
I read almost all of Amanda Quick's one-word romance novels years ago. Formulaic that they are, I seem to recall them with great clarity. During this phase, Amanda Quick had a distinct preference for eccentric heroines, often with spectacles paired with cold-on-the-surface heros, often earls who were by nature honorable men. I noticed that she had a series of earls as heros. She did not seem to like other ranks much.
In these stories the heros were always enchanted by how unusual the heroines were. The women were usually odd creatures, not society babes, bookish, slightly on the shelf. They usually had a strong interest in intellectual pursuits, almost always pathetically unfashionable whereas their husbands always dressed the part, aka devastatingly handsome devil of an earl, and had an eye for fashion.
This book is the epitome of her style during this time: Prudence, the 25-year-old spinster who liked to investigate supernatural phenomena and Sebastian, the Earl of Angelstone who seemed cold but of course whose passion could be only ignited by said spinster and whose loneliness could only be chased away by the presence of said spinster.
One great thing about Quick is her writing. She truly had a way with her stories. Even if I am not so crazy about the characters (usually the bespectacled heroines), I still find it pleasant to read her books. Her heros were "controlled" men, not necessarily cold or tortured and they were almost always responsible men, despite how Quick wanted to paint them as devils. They were quick to offer marriage (how convenient), had a strong sense of honor and could oddly, only find love with women who were considered odd by society standard.
Her heroines, oh aren't they the dears. I read a review for one of Quick's stories once which said: Amanda Quick's heroines all remind us of a historical version of Amanda Quick herself. A woman who was not exactly "traditionally beautiful" but "loved reading" and "was almost always too smart" for their own good. They had an odd sense of honor and often expected the heros to "do the right thing" or they would chastise the men for "not acting responsibly". They were also strangely level-headed to the point where they had no emotional weakness. I laughed so hard when I read that. I have exactly the same impression: there is definitely some "author's self-compensation" kind of thing going on here
I found the writing as good as I remember. Sebastian is a good hero but since I am not exactly crazy about Prudence, I lost some respect for Sebastian for falling for her. Prudence was bossy, damn. I rather despise the managing sort of women, no matter how much Sebastian wanted to be managed. I for one, have no interest in managing anyone. I usually like a level-headed heroine but Amanda Quick's heroines often remind me of Maggie Smith in Downten Abbey, whose Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, is the hautiest of the hautiest English gentlewomen: almost too level-headed and practical that they lose their vulnerability. For Violet Crawley, her level-headedness comes with age. For Amanda Quick's heroines, it just seems absurdly practical and unfortunately un-feminine.
I bought the book for my memories. I liked it better when I was younger and I am keeping the book for the old times.