The Devil's Heiress
After reading The Demon’s Mistress I knew I wanted to read the next two stories in this series about three friends named George. In this book, we’re introduced to a man in a desperate situation and the woman he believes is the solution to his problems. He soon realizes, however, that things are not all black or white and that his actions might be precisely what ruin his chance at happiness.
Major George Hawkinville, known as Hawk, arrives at his family home only to find that the estate may soon be lost. Hawk’s father, seeking to obtain the title of a distant relative, the recently deceased Lord Deveril, has put the estate at risk, and now it is up to Hawk to save his home. The solution is to find the “Devil’s Heiress,” the young woman who was betrothed to the infamous Deveril and has inherited his fortune, and marry her. He can also prove that she was involved in his murder. Hawk, however, is surprised to find that the woman in question is actually a quiet, plain young woman, Clarissa Graystone, who wants none of the notoriety that has come with Deveril’s money.
Hawk seizes the opportunity to formally meet Clarissa when she and five young charges are overcome by a crowd during a town celebration, and he becomes their dashing rescuer. Hawk’s an honorable man, despite his ruthless planning where Clarissa is concerned, and Hawk the dashing rescuer becomes Hawk the good Pied Piper, leading several lost children to safety. Clarissa can’t stop thinking of Hawk; she reasons that even if men are now after her for her money, it couldn’t hurt to indulge a little as long as one is fully aware of their motivations. As Clarissa blossoms in Brighton society, Hawk can’t reconcile his theory that Clarissa is a schemer with the innocent before him.
Just who was involved in Deveril’s death, and in what capacity, is something that both the reader and Hawk discover along the way. While Hawk struggles between wanting Clarissa and refusing to use her, Clarissa takes matters into her own hands and they run off to get married. Despite Hawk’s attempts at keeping his hands off his soon-to-be-wife, they make love, and the next day must face a reality that includes both Hawk and Clarissa keeping secrets from each other, and an enemy from the past who strikes at the very heart of one of the Rogues.
I liked both Clarissa and Hawk. She is neither prudish nor coy, knows that Hawk is the one for her and pushes past his defenses as best she can, which at times works a little too well. Hawk, while being torn between his pursuit of Clarissa and the love he comes to feel for her, has weak moments where she is concerned and maybe lets things get out of hand despite knowing how Clarissa will react when she finds certain truths.
The relationship between Hawk and Clarissa is truly wonderful to watch unfold. At one point she tells him that she’s been able to really talk to him since the beginning and it’s true, while he realizes that she is the missing piece in his life. The lovemaking scene, however, was a bit of a disappointment because Clarissa keeps referring to a book she’s read on the subject.
Several characters from previous Beverley books appear here, from the Rogues to the two other Georges, and they play important roles throughout the book. Their presence is definitely not “stunt casting;” it contributes to the story and adds a dimension to Hawk’s character other than his quest to solve the Deveril murder and legacy. Reading The Devil’s Heiress definitely made me want to go out and find some of the other Company of Rogues titles and I’d recommend you give it a try.