I Thee Wed

I Thee Wed - Amanda Quick 3.5 starsWhile it seemed obvious to me from the first who was behind it all, and even who was behind the murder of The Bastard (as Emma calls him), it was a fun romp.I don't quite understand what ties this book to the 1st book ("With This Ring"), except that Leo, the Mad Monk, was eccentric and his grandfather had something do with discovering the Isle of Vanzaganda (or whatever it's called). That island is, we learn in this book, where Vanza comes from - obviously some philosophy, with masters and students like we've come to learn in the "Star Wars" movies with Jedi masters and Sith masters.Anyway... Edison Stokes is an interesting Hero. He's dark and mysterious, but in unusual ways. He's Vanza, after all - or he was Vanza; he left his Vanza studies and went his own way, using what he learned to master himself and to create piles of money. Because Edison was a bastard - born on the wrong side of the blanket to a mother who was a servant and a father who was part of the ton, but a degenerate rakehell. His father was more interested in wenching and gaming than being any kind of father or real man. Edison's mother died of a broken heart, and his father died of his degenerate ways. Edison's grandmother, Victoria aka The Dragon, never forgave Edison for being illegitimate and for bailing her out from the massive debt incurred by her only son.Emma is a gentile lady down on her luck. It's only Emma and her younger sister, Daphne, whom Emma has enrolled in a quality school for girls. It's Emma's fondest wish that Daphne should make her debut in Polite Society and make a good match. Emma has been working as a companion for the past several years to make that happen. She's saved and scrimped. Her intuition is usually quite good, but unfortunately, she made a bad decision and sold their only property, sinking all the money into a share of a ship that seems to be lost at sea. And Emma's desperate - she needs money to pay Daphne's school fees.Emma's had her share of tough times. Being a companion is a tight-rope: She's allowed in company, but she's never really a part of company. And she's a servant. So men like Chilton, who prey sexually on servants, are the bane of Emma's existence. She already had a run-in with Chilton in the past, and while she prevented him from having his way by striking him on the head with a pot, she was sacked when her employer found her in the linen cupboard with a guest.Emma's hoping that Chilton will leave her alone, but that's not going to happen. He doesn't remember her, but he's still determined to have his way. Except that Emma's intuition has gotten her involved with the mysterious Lady Miranda Ames and her strange brew of tea. And that very brew is what brought Edison to this particular country house party at Basil Ware's. Edison is after the brew - supposedly, it uses a recipe from the Vanza's Book of Secrets, a recipe that can enhance a woman's natural intuition. Miranda, who is really an actress with just enough blunt for one Season, thinks she can make money at cards with her strange brew and Emma as her partner. Edison is trying to find out where and how Miranda got this recipe... and what she might know about the Vanza's secret book.So of course, Emma and Edison run into one another (more than once) at this country house party. And they fall for one another, although in true romance style, neither is willing to admit it themselves, much less to the other. But the fascination is there, and they find themselves locked in fierce kissing embraces. Edison hires Emma to help him find out what Miranda is up to. And when Emma is in danger of being accused of murdering Chilton, found shot dead in her room, it's Edison to the rescue. Except his alibi is that she was with him, in his bedroom - a sure way to upset her precarious reputation and her status as a companion! But Edison takes it a step farther, thwarting the true culprit, by announcing his engagement to Emma just after his stunning announcement that they were "together" in his room.Emma plays along only because Edison's paying her to. It doesn't pay to fall in love with one's employer, a sad fact that poor Swan (Miranda's large footman) discovers too late - after Miranda's been shot, too.Between Edison's Vanza-stealth and "strategies" and Emma's intuition, the two manage to solve the puzzles of Chilton's death, Miranda's death, and the mysterious tea brew recipe.