Slightly Shady

Slightly Shady

by Amanda Quick

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Amanda Quick's bestselling trademark is a combination of suspense and passion in historical tales alight with sparkling wit and brimming with dangerous intrigue. Now she serves up the most tantalizing novel of her career as an enterprising woman allies herself with a mysterious spy, only to be caught in a seething brew of treachery — and temptation....

From the moment he burst into her antiquities shop in Rome, Lavinia Lake knew the stranger was nothing but trouble. He said he was in pursuit of a killer. He swore he was only trying to save her. Yet no matter what he claimed, Lavinia was convinced that Mr. Tobias March was bent instead on destroying her. And when the self-described spy hustled her and her niece out of the shop and back to England, Lavinia could only hope that one day she would would find a way to repay Mr. March in full.

But Lavinia never imagined the shocking circumstances under which they would meet again ... or that soon he would become more deadly — and more compelling — with each passing day.

In the business of making private inquiries, Tobias March had been hired to trade down a powerful villain who even now was intent on assuming control of a vast criminal organization. Yet in his search he had found nothing but one dead end — and one dead body — after another.

And then, just as his investigation was heating up once more, he found his mission and his life complicated by the most ungovernable, unpredictable, exasperating woman he had ever met.

Faced with a tangled web of deceit and danger, Tobias had no choice but to form a partnership with Lavinia, a lady whose past could only be described as slightly shady. Yet when he persuaded her to become his associate, neither Tobias nor Lavinia realized that their heated disputes would spark a sizzling desire — or that the deeper they kept digging for the truth, the deeper they were digging their own graves....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307418333
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Series: Lavinia Lake and Tobias March , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 21,671
File size: 586 KB

About the Author

Amanda Quick, a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, is a bestselling, award-winning author of contemporary and historical romances. There are over twenty-five million copies of her books in print, including Seduction, Surrender, Scandal, Rendezvous, Ravished, Reckless, Dangerous, Deception, Desire, Mistrss, Mystique, Mischief, Affair, With This Ring, I Thee Wed, and Wicked Widow. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Frank.

Read an Excerpt


The intruder's eyes blazed with a cold fire. He raised a powerful hand and swept another row of vases off the shelf. The fragile objects crashed to the floor and shattered into a hundred shards. He moved on to a display of small statues.

"I advise you to make haste with your packing, Mrs. Lake," he said as he turned his violent attention to a host of fragile clay Pans, Aphrodites, and satyrs. "The carriage will leave in fifteen minutes, and I promise you that you and your niece will be aboard, with or without your luggage."

Lavinia watched him from the foot of the stairs, helpless to stop the destruction of her wares. "You have no right to do this. You are ruining me."

"On the contrary, madam. I am saving your neck." He used a booted foot to topple a large urn decorated in the Etruscan manner. "Not that I expect any thanks, mind you."

Lavinia winced as the urn exploded on impact with the floor. She knew now that it was pointless to berate the lunatic. He was intent on destroying the shop and she lacked the means to stop him. She had been taught early in life to recognize the signs that indicated it was time to stage a tactical retreat. But she had never learned to tolerate such annoying reversals of fortune with equanimity.

"If we were in England, I would have you arrested, Mr. March."

"Ah, but we are not in England, are we, Mrs. Lake?" Tobias March seized a life-size stone centurion by the shield and shoved it forward. The Roman fell on his sword. "We are in Italy and you have no choice but to do as I command."

It was useless to stand her ground. Every moment spent down here attempting to reason with Tobias March was time lost that should be spent packing. But the unfortunate tendency toward stubbornness that was so much a part of her nature could not abide the notion of surrendering the field of battle without a struggle.

"Bastard," she said through her teeth.

"Not in the legal sense." He slammed another row of red clay vases to the floor. "But I believe I comprehend what you wish to imply."

"It is obvious that you are no gentleman, Tobias March."

"I will not quarrel with you on that point." He kicked over a waist-high statue of a naked Venus. "But then, you are no lady, are you?"

She cringed when the statue crumbled. The naked Venuses had proved quite popular with her clientele.

"How dare you? Just because my niece and I got stranded here in Rome and were obliged to go into trade for a few months in order to support ourselves is no reason to insult us."

"Enough." He whirled around to face her. In the lantern light, his forbidding face was colder than the features of any stone statue. "Be grateful that I have concluded that you were merely an unwitting dupe of the criminal I am pursuing and not a member of his gang of thieves and murderers."

"I have only your word that the villains were using my shop as a place to exchange their messages. Frankly, Mr. March, given your rude behavior, I am not inclined to believe a single thing you say."

He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his pocket. "Do you deny that this note was hidden in one of your vases?"

She glanced at the damning note. Only moments ago she had watched in stunned amazement while he shattered a lovely Greek vase. A message that looked remarkably like a villain's report to his criminal employer had been tucked inside. Something about a bargain with pirates having been successfully struck.

Lavinia raised her chin. "It is certainly not my fault that one of my patrons dropped a personal note into that vase."

"Not just one patron, Mrs. Lake. The villains have been using your shop for some weeks now."

"And just how would you know that, sir?"

"I have watched these premises and your personal movements for nearly a month."

She widened her eyes, genuinely shocked by the infuriatingly casual admission.

"You have spent the past month spying on me?"

"At the start of my observations, I assumed that you were an active participant in Carlisle's ring here in Rome. It was only after much study that I have concluded you probably did not know what some of your so-called customers were about."

"That is outrageous."

He gave her a look of mocking inquiry. "Are you saying you did know what they were up to when they came and went in such a regular fashion?"

"I am saying no such thing." She could hear her voice climbing but there was little she could do about it. She had never been so angry or so frightened in her life. "I believed them to be honest patrons of antiquities."

"Did you indeed?" Tobias glanced at a collection of cloudy green glass jars that stood in a neat row on a high shelf. His smile was devoid of all warmth. "And how honest are you, Mrs. Lake?"

She stiffened. "What are you implying, sir?"

"I'm not implying anything. I am merely noting that most of the items in this shop are cheap replicas of ancient artifacts. There is very little here that is truly antique."

"How do you know?" she shot back. "Never say you are an expert in antiquities, sir. I will not be taken in by such an outlandish claim. You cannot pass yourself off as a scholarly researcher, not after what you have done to my establishment."

"You are correct, Mrs. Lake. I am not an expert in Greek and Roman antiquities. I am a simple man of business."

"Rubbish. Why would a simple man of business come all the way to Rome in pursuit of a villain named Carlisle?"

"I am here on behalf of one of my clients who employed me to make inquiries into the fate of a man named Bennett Ruckland."

"What was the fate of this Mr. Ruckland?"

Tobias looked at her. "He was murdered here in Rome. My client believes it was because he learned too much concerning the secret organization that Carlisle controls."

"A likely story."

"Nevertheless, it is my story and mine is the only tale that matters tonight." He hurled another pot to the floor. "You have only ten minutes left, Mrs. Lake."

It was hopeless. Lavinia took two fistfuls of her skirts and started up the stairs. But she paused midway as a thought struck her.

"This business of making inquiries into murders on behalf of your clients -- it seems a rather odd sort of profession," she said.

He smashed a small Roman oil lamp. "No more odd than selling false antiquities."

Lavinia was incensed. "I told you, they are not false, sir. They are reproductions designed to be purchased as souvenirs."

"Call them what you wish. They look remarkably like fraudulent imitations to me."

She smiled thinly. "But as you just said, sir, you are no expert in rare artifacts, are you? You are merely a simple man of business."

"You have approximately eight minutes left, Mrs. Lake."

She touched the silver pendant she wore at her throat the way she often did when her nerves were under a great strain. "I cannot decide if you are a monstrous villain or merely deranged," she whispered.

He looked briefly, chillingly, amused. "Does it make any great difference?"


The situation was impossible. She had no choice but to concede the victory to him. With a soft exclamation of frustration and anger, she whirled and rushed on up the stairs. When she reached the small, lantern-lit room, she saw that, unlike herself, Emeline had made good use of the time allotted to them. Two medium-size and one very large trunk stood open. The smaller trunks were already crammed to overflowing.

"Thank goodness you are here." Emeline's words were muffled, as her head was inside the wardrobe. "Whatever took you so long?"

"I was attempting to convince March that he had no right to toss us out into the street in the middle of the night."

"He is not tossing us into the street." Emeline straightened away from the wardrobe, a small antique vase cradled in her arms. "He has provided a carriage and two armed men to see us safely out of Rome and all the way home to England. It is really very generous of him."

"Rubbish. There is nothing at all generous about his actions. He is playing some deep game, I tell you, and he wants us out of his way."

Emeline busied herself rolling the vase into a bombazine gown. "He believes we are in grave danger from that villain Carlisle, who used our shop as a place to send and receive messages from his men."

"Bah. We have only Mr. March's word that there is any such villain operating here in Rome." Lavinia opened a cupboard. A very handsome, extremely well endowed Apollo gazed out at her. "I, for one, am not inclined to put much faith in anything that man tells us. For all we know, he wants the use of these rooms for his own dark purposes."

"I am convinced he has told us the truth." Emeline stuffed the cushioned vase into the third trunk. "And if that is the case, he is right. We are indeed in danger."

"If there is some villainous gang involved in this affair, I would not be surprised to discover that Tobias March is their leader. He claims to be a simple man of business, but it is obvious to me that there is something distinctly diabolical about him."

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Slightly Shady 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Piffandra More than 1 year ago
The book started out a little slow, but is well worth reading as the two books that follow, Don't Look Back and Late For The Wedding, are extremely exciting. By the end of the third book, Tobias' and Lavina's love had grown so great, I was so involved with the characters, I was really sad to be done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Tobias March was a professional when it came to discreetly collecting information. His current client, Lord Neville, had him locating a diary. It had belonged to the valet of a cutthroat named Carlisle. Carlisle was a former member of the Blue Chamber, a notorious crime group that once had connections throughout England and Europe. Now only one person lived from the former group. The diary held that name.

Widow Lavinia Lake had not known Carlisle was using her small shop in Italy for a drop-off point. Mr. March broke everything in the shop, shipped her and her niece, Emeline, to England, and then expected her to be grateful he had ruined her business! Lavinia quickly began a business of collecting information as well. After all, she had to have some way of getting money for rent and to help Emeline find a suitable husband! It was not long before Lavinia and March met again.

Both wanted the diary for different reasons. Neither trusted the other. Each were strongly attracted to the other. Someone was out to stop them from their investigations no matter the cost. Yes, they were both in deep trouble!

**** Well written mystery, but too easy to figure out. Even so, the book is so full of adventure and danger that it will definitely hold onto the attention of all its readers until the very end. Recommended! ****
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Slightly Shady we are introduced to her characters of Lavinia and Tobias, who become partners in a detective business. While this was not Amanda Quick's best novel, I still enjoyed the twist and turns and witty dialogue she does so well. I look forward to the rest of the story on these 2 characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can not believe what I am about to write about an Amanda Quick book - I truly did not like, enjoy, or re-read this book. I have been a huge fan prior to this book. I felt it was slow and boring. I was actually able to put this book down for a day or two (praying it would get better). Never before have I put down a book by this esteemed author without feeling disappointment. I do not plan to purchase any sequels to this even though I own all the other Amanda Quick books. Sad to say that this book will find its way to charity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with the other viewers on the lack of romance in this book. Great plotline and the dialogue is better than I've read in her other books. I don't feel the characters were as clearly developed as the mystery was. I did enjoy it enough to purchase Don't Look Back(book 2) and so far the series itself is comical and enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was pleased to see that a new Amanda Quick novel was released. I have always enjoyed her novels; until this one. It was poorly constructed, the plot extremely contrived and the dialogue was very choppy. Both main characters had little to redeem them, they were just very annoying people. I hope that Ms Krentz takes a little more time writing her next Amanda Quick novel.
SFM13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am listening to this in the audio format. (my traveling book) So far Lavinia and Tobias are teaming up to catch a blackmailer, and bring an end to his criminal gang. The two have discovered that they both are targets.Lavinia and Tobias are investigating an erotic wax museum. The female figures appear to resemble prostitutes that have gone missing. The male figure interacting in different sexual acts with the various female figures appears to be made from the same model. Who is he? The story progresses as Lavinia and Tobias discover a mutual passion for each other. After a suspect turns up dead, his wife (Constantine) is revealed as the murderer. She killed the women who her husband Neville had previously entertained as his mistresses. Now believing that he might leave her to be with the widow of the 'Blue Gang,' assuming power as head criminal mastermind, she murders him. She is on the verge of killing Lavinia who has discovered her crimes when Tobias shows up and she is subdued. In the end Constantine is committed to an asylum for the insane. Lavinia and Tobias will continue to work as investigators, after discovering they enjoy their partnership. It is mentioned in the end that although the job is frustrating, there is a remedy for the frustraton. Although temporary the remedy can be applied as often as needed. (love is the drug) *** several erotic scenes throughout involving communion of the two ... well-written ... sensual & satifying.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sharp tongued and shrewish, widow Lavina Lake is not the most appealing of heroines. Her relationship with private investigator Tobias March is prickly and fraught with raised voices from the very beginning when he lays waste to her shop in Rome. Reacquainted in London, the pair are thrown together in the course of a desperate search for a serial killer with the odd habit of modeling wax into threats.Not my favorite of Quick's characters - Lavina comes off as a rude, pushy woman, and Tobias a bit too long-suffering.
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