The irrepressible Quick (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz) returns to Regency-era England (Affair, 1997, etc.), focusing now on a particularly charming couple whose apparent incompatibility makes their offbeat romance all the more satisfying. When the bold and willful Beatrice Poole appears one stormy night on Leo Drake's doorstep, both Beatrice and Leo--who have a shared tendency to seek out excitement--are in for more than they bargained for. Leo, a wealthy Earl, spends much of his free time engaged in scholarly research. But he's growing restive. Monkcrest Abbey has been hauntingly quiet since his two sons have been sent with their tutor on the Grand Tour (Leo's wife died when the boys were still quite young). Finch--the houseman--tries valiantly to turn Beatrice and her intoxicated maid Sally away, certain that the reclusive Leo will refuse to see them. But Beatrice has an agenda: She's a writer--a successful author of gothic novels-with a mysterious personal puzzle to solve. An uncle of hers has suddenly, and unexpectedly, died, and a family heirloom--the Forbidden Rings of Aphrodite--is missing from his home. Knowing Leo's reputation as an expert on historical ephemera, she insists on learning what he knows about the rings, with the intent of regaining them. When Leo tells her to give up the quest, that the rings are exceedingly dangerous, Beatrice becomes all the more determined to find them. The ensuing adventure forces Leo to leave his musty quarters and worry about someone besides himself; and it teaches Beatrice that independence is not entirely incompatible with love. A playful take on a classic tale of romance and terror, certain to delight Quick's myriad fans.