The Devil's Necklace
From the blurb on the back of the ACR of The Devil’s Necklace, I was expecting the story of a feisty beauty and her pirate captor. Happily, it turned out to be much better than the blurb, and I ended up enjoying this book quite a bit. The Devil’s Necklace is the second book in a trilogy, but it stands alone perfectly.
Grace Chastain was always treated coldly by her father. Nothing she did pleased him and she could not figure out why. Then she discovered that her biological father was really Harmon Jeffries, the Viscount Forsythe. Although Forsythe has never come to see Grace, for obvious reasons, he has sent money for her upkeep. When the book begins, Grace has discovered that Forsythe has been found guilty of treason and is about to be hanged. Even though she has never seen him, he is still her father, so Grace bribes the jailer to let him escape.
A week later as Grace sails to Scarborough to visit her aunt, her ship is stopped by privateer Ethan Sharpe, captain of the Sea Witch. Ethan tells the captain of Grace’s ship that she is wanted for questioning about a matter of national security. Actually, Ethan wants revenge. He and his crew were betrayed by a traitor and most of the crew were killed. Ethan was tortured in a French prison before he finally escaped. Ethan believes that Forsythe was the traitor and that Grace is his mistress. He plans to make her his mistress and find out where Forsythe is so he can kill him.
Naturally Ethan’s plans change as soon as Grace comes on board. She is feisty, strong-willed and breathtakingly beautiful. He is strong and handsome with revenge on his mind. Now if this book had been written back in the 1980s, we’d have rape on the high seas until Grace’s will has been broken and she learns to love her captor. But Grace is not a weak woman under a feisty exterior and Ethan is not a rapist. Gradually, they begin to fall in love and finally they make love with Grace being the instigator. When Ethan finds out that Grace was never Forsythe’s mistress, he delivers her to her aunt. Then Grace turns out to be pregnant, and they marry. But what will Ethan do when he finds out that the man he thinks betrayed him is his father in law?
The whole plot of The Devil’s Necklace is based on the character’s (especially Grace) keeping secrets from each other. While Grace’s loyalty to her father is admirable, it would have been better if they had met each other. Until close to the end, Grace has never met her father and knows him only from how her aunt describes him. Yes he has provided for her, and yes her mother’s husband has treated her with disdain, but I could not help thinking that Grace’s keeping her father’s identity a secret would have been more understandable had they actually known each other.
Grace and Ethan are both very likable characters. At first glance Grace is one of those impossibly beautiful spitfires that make me roll my eyes, but she has more depth. She longs for love and a family since her own homelife was less than ideal. She is intelligent, loyal to a fault and quite an admirable character all around. Ethan is principled, patriotic and a decent man as well. They make a very good couple.
There are a few problems that bothered me. Ethan and Grace take a lot of baths. Somehow, I don’t think that the captain of a ship would waste precious drinking water that way. Also, at one point when Ethan and Grace are quarelling, she tells him “it’s my house, too”. Actually not – when a man and woman married back then, all of his property remained his, and all of her property became his as well (unless her family drew up an ironclad contract). Also, I don’t think that skirts with thigh-high slits in them were acceptable in London in 1805.
But those were very minor problems. For the most part I enjoyed The Devil’s Necklace, and will probably read the next book in the series. Even though the book doesn’t have a lot of depth to it, it still tells an exciting story in an engaging manner and was just what I needed on a hot, lazy summer day.