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I Thee Wed by Amanda Quick
(Bantam, $23.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-553-10084-X
****
I Thee Wed is not a sequel to With this Ring and it's not as great a read as her previous novel. It is, however, another in a long line of witty, humorous, dialogue-driven romances by Ms. Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Amanda Quick. This story contains all the usual ingredients that make this author so much fun to read.

The hero, Edison Stokes, is a self-made man and the illegitimate issue of a nobleman. Because of his wealth, and the fact that he saved his noble grandmother from financial ruin, Society accepts him. However, Edison could care less about Society and his relations with his grandmother are not exactly cordial.

What Edison does care about is finding the person who might have gained possession of a legendary book of secrets. This book contains the recipe for a formula that is supposed to allow a highly intuitive person to see what others can't – like the identity of a card when it is face down on a gambling table. When it appears that Emma Greyson is just such a person, Edison realizes she may be in danger.

A woman who must earn her living in Regency England doesn't have many choices; Emma worked as a governess and a paid companion before she accepts a position as Edison Stoke's assistant. She knows the worst mistake a woman in service can make is to fall in love with her employer. Reputation is everything, and a professional woman's best friend is a good reference.

Although Emma is not above writing herself a glowing reference, she's found that it's much easier if one has the real thing to count on. So practical Emma puts aside her personal feelings and does her best to obtain the all-necessary good reference from Edison. But he keeps dodging her requests and when circumstances force Emma to accept an elevation from assistant to fiancée, her resolve to maintain a professional distance between herself and her very appealing employer starts weakening.

As always, in romances by Ms. Krentz, there is an intelligent, capable heroine who can only be truly appreciated and loved by an equally intelligent and discerning man. Put simply, Ms. Krentz's wonderfully "horrid" novels continually remind us that passion and romance are not just for the beautiful and the stupid.

Honor, loyalty and the importance of family are some of the very appealing themes that always make their way into this author's books. But in my opinion the best reason for reading I Thee Wed is the dialogue: No one in romance fiction writes better dialogue than Jayne Ann Krentz.

"In all fairness, Mr. Stokes, I must tell you that I cannot guarantee satisfaction," Emma said. "It is one thing for me to pose as a companion. I have had some experience in that line, after all. But I have had absolutely no experience as a fiancée and I am not at all certain that I will suit the post."

"On the contrary, Miss Greyson." He leaned toward her and reached out to tip her chin. "I think you are perfectly suited to the position. All you require is practice," He started to bend his head. She realized with a shock that he intended to kiss her.

"One more thing, sir," she whispered breathlessly.

He paused, his mouth inches above hers. "Yes?"

"Given the unusual nature of my post, I really must insist that you write out my reference in advance."

His mouth curved faintly. "I shall see to it in the near future."

Ms. Krentz's formula doesn't change, but her dialogue is always fun, fresh and romantic. I Thee Wed contains lots of humorous passages like the one above; if you like that kind of dialogue, I think you will enjoy this book. In addition, the story line includes fair doses of intrigue and mystery, plus a surprise ending.

--Judith Flavell


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