Desert Isle Keeper
The Devil Comes Courting
The Devil Comes Courting is the third full-length novel book in the Worth Saga, and it follows a new heroine as well as the continuing adventures of the Worth siblings and the Hunter family.
Captain Grayson Hunter is looking for a genius, specifically, someone to code Chinese characters for his telegraph line. His longtime dream cannot be achieved without this code, and Grayson is determined. Two men have already failed, and he will stop at nothing to find someone who can do it. Missionary Leland Acheson knows of just the person, someone he calls Silver Fox.
Grayson seeks out this Silver Fox, and discovers that the person in question is Leland’s sister, Mrs. Amelia Smith. Like Leland, Amelia was adopted by the Achesons, missionaries in China. Unlike Leland, Amelia is Chinese. Now widowed, Amelia is being pushed into a second marriage by their adoptive mother, but Grayson presents her with an alternative: respectable employment with him, working on the code he needs. Amelia has a choice to make, between ambition and safety, the world she was adopted into, and the world she could build. Not only does Amelia have the opportunity to be a part of connecting the world with cables, she finds herself drawn to the handsome captain who guards his heart so carefully. And despite himself, Grayson finds himself developing feelings for Amelia as well.
Amelia is a wonderful character, not just full of life, but truly lifelike. Brilliant and gifted, she has been suppressed by the culture that taught her to reject parts of herself. When she is enabled to fully accept herself, Amelia truly blooms. Generosity is one of her defining traits, but she also develops a really strong sense of self, one that allows her to pursue what she desires. Grayson is a really well-written hero, one with deep pain but also incredible drive. He is unconventional, given his life’s ambitions, and that makes him unique, especially amongst heroes in this genre. Amelia is unique that way, too, as most historical romance ends with the couple putting down roots, and neither of these characters are interested in settling down in the traditional way. Both of these leads desire adventure and are ambitious, which makes them all the more interesting.
The beautiful representation of China in the late nineteenth century is a true treat for anyone looking for more diverse, inventive historical romance. Another little thing that I loved is the neurodiversity representation; while it is on the subtler side, it is clear that Amelia, and Grayson’s brother Noah are written to be neurodivergent. Noah is described as hyper-fixating on specific topics, and given certain other traits that might be congruent with the Autism Spectrum. Amelia has trouble remembering names, and while she might have just been written as a scatter-brained scientist, she is caringly rendered as someone with certain limitations, who can easily get around them with accommodations. Still, while Amelia has her moments of doubting herself, she is able to build confidence through others’ faith in her and her own accomplishments.
This is a real slow burn romance, and it works really well for the characters and the plot. The principals go through a lot of growth on the page, and the secondary characters have a lot to contribute to the narrative. While this story doesn’t feature the Worths heavily, I enjoyed it every bit as much as the previous books in the series, possibly more. Benedict is a lot more grown up here, and we get to see him as he comes into adolescence and tries to find his feet. It’s an entirely enjoyable read, and I would highly recommend The Devil Comes Courting to any Courtney Milan fan, or any fan of historical romance who is looking for something new and exciting.