cover image With This Ring

With This Ring

Amanda Quick. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10083-9

""An author must decide early on whether to write for the readers or the critics, because there is generally no way to please both."" So says the heroine of Quick's latest Regency romance, an ""authoress"" of ""horrid"" novels (gothic precursors of our pulp romances) who finds herself starring in a horrid of her own. Beatrice Poole, a young widow writing under the alias Amelia York, suspects her uncle of being murdered for his role in the search for a fabled treasure, the Forbidden Rings of Aphrodite. Seeking out an antiquities expert, Beatrice finds herself allied with Leo Drake, a mysterious, sexy widower who may be her perfect match. The swiftly moving plot holds interest, and Quick (Surrender) gets her leading couple into bed with alacrity if, perhaps, with less panache than her readers expect. At one point Beatrice warns that ""critics who accuse her of writing overwrought and overheated prose had not seen anything yet."" The same is too true of Quick, whose camp sensibility goes only so far to excuse a tale in which ""Pain and bad temper had fused into a dangerous flame in his eyes,"" and an aroused woman ""dissolves into a warm puddle"" and has eyes that ""were wide, limpid pools."" (Apr.)