Financially straitened and on the path to spinsterhood, Venetia Milton thought her stay at the remote, ramshackle Arcane House would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engineer her own ravishment. She was there to photograph the artifacts collected by a highly secretive organization, founded two centuries earlier by an alchemist. And the alchemist's descendant-her employer, Gabriel Jones-has the eyes of a sorcerer.
But despite Venetia's intent to seduce Mr. Jones and move on, she is shattered upon her return home to read in the press of his violent demise. Using the sizable fee Mr. Jones paid her, Venetia establishes a new life, opening a gallery in London. Of course, posing as a respectable widow makes it easier to do business, so-in a private tribute to her lost, only lover-she assumes the identity of "Mrs. Jones."
Her romantic whim, however, will cause unexpected trouble. For one thing, Mr. Jones is about to stride, living and breathing, back into Venetia's life. And the two share more than a passionate memory-indeed, they are bonded by a highly unusual sort of vision, one that goes far beyond Venetia's abilities as a photographer. They also share a terrible threat-for someone has stolen a centuries-old notebook from Arcane House that contains a formula believed to enhance psychic powers of the kind Gabriel and Venetia possess. And the thief wants to know more-even if he must kill the keeper of the Arcane Society's treasures, or the photographer who catalogued them, to obtain such knowledge.
--Second Sight (The Arcane Society, Book 1)
by Amanda Quick
Copyright © 2006 by Jayne Ann Krentz
Published by The Putnam Group
Though I try, sometimes I simply cannot improve on the synopsis provided by the publisher. The above is taken from Amazon.com’s “Product Description” of the book and it seems quite lengthy for a “back-of-the-book” blurb, but sometimes Amazon is all I can draw from, so there you go.
Venetia Milton is not your typical Victorian-era heroine. She’s strong-minded, willful and determined to do things her way. She has to in order to support her family, which consists of herself, her younger brother and sister and her aunt.
Gabriel Jones is also not your typical Victorian-era hero. He’s open-minded about women establishing businesses for themselves and encourages Venetia in her work, except, of course, when her life is potentially in danger, he puts his foot down, and she very neatly trods over it. Which, of course, both infuriates him and makes him admire her even more. Truly a modern thinker.
Amanda Quick captures the era very nicely, and her historical knowledge of Victorian-era photography is excellent. Throw in the supernatural elements that she is quite adept at weaving into her stories and you have a well-constructed, entertaining story that’s a good kick-off to the Arcane Society series.
For those who don’t already know, Jayne Ann Krentz writes under two pseudonyms, Amanda Quick for historicals, Jayne Castle for futuristics and uses her own name for contemporaries. The Arcane Society series crosses all three of these genres, though each book can be read on its own. I’ll be reading/re-reading the series but not back-to-back, as I have so many books to read. I foresee the consumption of this series taking me well into next year…but I’m no psychic, so we’ll see!
I give the story THREE stars.