It is a truth universally acknowledged . . .
. . . that a jilted earl must be in want of a fiancée who is something other than a flibbertigibbet, knows her place, and is not entirely unpleasant to look on: a description that precisely fits a paid companion. Arthur Lancaster, the Earl of St. Merryn, is a logical man who desires only peace and quiet and seeks to contract a suitable marriage with a reasonable female. But there seem to be none in London—or at least the redoubtable matrons who hire out exceedingly respectable companions for so much per annum have shown him none that he could envision under his roof or in his bed. Enter Miss Elenora Lodge, a disheveled beauty wearing prop spectacles in order to pass for prim, who beguiles Arthur, who in turn proposes an Arrangement. She, newly arrived in London after bailiffs have turned her off her bankrupt stepfather’s country property, says yes. Ibbits, the earl’s scheming butler, is quite put out. A handsome fellow who once provided paid companionship of a very different sort to lonely ladies of the ton, Ibbits was forced to go into service when—damnable luck!—he became impotent. Thanks to his employers’ peccadilloes, he makes extra money on the side retailing their secrets—and simultaneously blackmailing them. But is Ibbits wicked enough to commit murder? And what does the eccentric scientist who prowls the underground network of lost London streams have to do with it all?
Sexy, charming, intelligent fun: a delectable romp from the deft pen of Ms. Quick (who also writes clunky contemporary thrillers as Jayne Ann Krentz—go figure).