All About Love
Devil’s Bride has a place of honor among my DIK books. It’s rare when a book not only lives up to its hype, but also when the delicious sensuality of the love scenes is more than matched by strong characterization. While Devil’s Bride is still my favorite Stephanie Laurens book, I have on the whole enjoyed her Cynster series. I can say that her latest book about the Cynster men, All About Love is a very satisfying read.
All About Love opens with the murder of someone close to the hero, an opening very much like the one in Devil’s Bride. Alasdair Cynster, known as Lucifer, is wanting to get away for a time, so on the day following his brother’s wedding (see A Secret Love), the last unmarried Cynster man takes himself off for a while. Conveniently enough, a collector and good friend, Horatio Welham, has invited Lucifer to the countryside for a visit to examine a new and wonderful find. Lucifer arrives, only to find Horatio’s murdered body on the floor – and then Lucifer himself is knocked unconscious. When he wakes, it’s to find himself in Phyllida Tallent’s family home, where she is tending him until he recovers from his head injury.
Phyllida knows more than she is letting on, but the one person who is most concerned with solving the murder is the one person she can’t confide in, at least not until she is released from a promise she has made to a friend. Her knowledge ends up placing Phyllida in danger and she and Lucifer must join forces to solve the murder. Readers expecting some of Laurens’ sizzling love scenes will not be disappointed; the sexual tension starts while Lucifer is nearly unconscious with pain and Phyllida is afraid he’ll discover she is the one who coshed him, and this is only in the first chapter.
Lucifer is well aware that Phyllida is hiding something, and he must walk a fine line with her. On one hand, he is unnerved by his fascination with this gently bred, cool and collected woman who rules her home masterfully, yet his Cynster nature surfaces whenever he even thinks of her. On the other, it bothers him that despite her own attraction to him, she has not revealed what she knows about the murder. Slowly but surely, Lucifer begins to succumb to the “curse” that has already claimed his other Cynster relatives, that of falling in love with a woman as strong as he is, and comes to understand the Cynster motto, “To Have and To Hold.”
Phyllida is a more-than-worthy addition to the clan, and is a strong heroine worthy of her Cynster mate. She coolly explains to Lucifer that there is no point in her marrying someone to merely better their situation, as is the case with all the suitors who see her as a step up in their life. She is the dependable one, the one who runs her household and the one person the townspeople go to whenever they need anything. Being taken for granted is something she’s gotten used to. Phyllidia’s interaction with Lucifer is unlike anything she has ever known. Here is a man who sees beyond her competence and steadiness to the passionate woman no one else has seen before, and she responds in kind.
My one peeve about the book has nothing to do with the plot or characters themselves. Because All About Love uses elements from some of the previous books in the series,the feeling that I got with the opening chapter – that I had read all this before – never completely went away. Although this is the last book about the original Bar Cynster clan the author’s note explains that we will see more of the family in upcoming books. Next is the story of an honorary Cynster and after that, the twins Amanda and Amelia will get their turn in the spotlight, and there will be two other Cynster stories in the future. If you’re looking for a luscious historical, I can recommend you give All About Love (and the books about the Cynster family) a try.