Few things are as delightful as whiling away summer hours on the couch with a good historical romance. The River Knows fits the bill for just such an activity. I feel that I should have been reading lots of Amanda Quick over the years, but I don’t think I have (though I did sit next to her at a luncheon at the Romance Writers of America convention once!), and shame on me because I really really liked this, her newest novel. On the plus side, though, now I can delve into her large library and always have something to read.
Like many genteel ladies who have fallen on hard times Joanna Barclay was faced with few, unappealing choices: prostitution, being a governess or companion, suicide, or turning to trade. She chose trade, which basically eliminated her from society. However, she had happiness and success as a book merchant. One horrible night, though, she is forced to leave it all behind, fake a river suicide, and start over with the new name Louisa Bryce. As Louisa she embarks on an exciting new chapter in her life-that of a writer for one of the sensational tabloid newspapers. She tracks down scandal and reveals all as the writer “I.M. Phantom.” When Anthony Stalbridge crosses tracks with her at a soiree the two join up to solve the mystery of Anthony’s former fiancee’s death (by suicide into the river), whom he believes was murdered. Anthony and Louisa encounter fabulous characters such as the then equivalent of a mob boss, a madam who runs a brothel catering to S&M, a radically unscrupulous society gentleman, and Anthony’s eccentric inventor father. Of course throughout all this tracking down of crooks and uncovering of clues there is a steamy passion developing between them.
I really enjoyed the running theme of the plight of woman in this time period-suicide and prostitution as the only choices after male relatives have gambled away all the money or inconveniently died. It was an interesting historical storyline in the midst of the romance and intrigue.