The Devil Earl
Deborah Simmons has quickly become a must-read author for me. If you’ve not read her yet, you’re missing something good. Her books are infused with humor, a broad range of diverse personalities, and are very sexy reads, too. I just finished The Last Rogue, and while I loved it (it’s a wonderful read), in some ways, I liked The Devil Earl better.
Gothic author Prudence Lancaster has lived all her life in the shadow of Wolfinger, an imposing castle that looms over the township and has a dark and violent history. Pru’s greatest wish is to get inside the scary demense that has become her muse, to find more inspiration for her popular books. That the lord of the manor, Sebastian Ravenscar, is as dark, brooding, and predatory as the castle he keeps, is a bonus for quick-minded and clever Pru.
Sebastian has lived a life of debauchery, with an emphasis on the carnal pleasures. His reputation for evil is embellished when he kills his own uncle in a duel. Then, when his younger brother, the spoiled and dandified James, disappears, Sebastian’s reputation as a murderer is further enhanced. Believing himself jaded beyond redemption, Sebastian is puzzled and fascinated by pretty Prudence, who has ink stains on her fingers, wears spectacles (which he loves to remove), and is a spinster firmly on the shelf as she raises her younger sister, Phoebe. He longs to get his hands on Prudence, and when he does … oh my. There are several sexy love scenes in this book as Sebastian plies his knowledge on Prudence’s willing body. Gulp.
A trip to London, the search for James (just what did happen to that boy, Pru’s inquiring mind wants to know), secret rooms, hidden passageways, steamy love scenes, and a tormented hero that only our feisty, sensible heroine can save, all add up to a great read, and a hero and heroine destined only for each other.
The Devil Earl might have been a Desert Island Keeper, but for one problem. The culmination of the story comes about fifty pages before the end of the book, making everything that follows anticlimactic. After the mystery was resolved, I kept thinking, why isn’t this book over? A secondary plot line still needed to be played out, one that was not as compelling as Sebastian and Pru’s relationship (nor even James and Phoebe’s), so I found myself skipping pages to get to the end. It’s really no big deal, but the relationship between the hero and heroine was so intense, it was all I cared about.
Also, James threatens to overshadow Sebastian at one point (again detracting from the primary romance), but Ms. Simmons has wisely kept points-of-view to a limit. Sebastian’s younger brother is absent through much of the story, but when he shows up, watch out! He could easily have had a story of his own.
I definitely recommend this book. It’s a gothic romance with a twist and a wiggle, and I’m still cooling off from having read it. I hope Ms. Simmons makes all her books as sexy and smart as the four I’ve read so far. She’s a talented author, and one who makes reading romance such a pleasure.
|Review Date:||September 24, 1998|
|Book Type:||European Historical Romance|