The Devil's Temptation
The Devil’s Temptation is the second book in a trilogy that follows Sins of Midnight in the Daventry sisters series. The focus is on middle daughter Maura. I didn’t read the first book in the series, which caused some confusion because of an on-going sub-plot involving the heroine’s mother.
Elise Marchand, Maura’s mother, was an actress who married into nobility. She wasn’t welcome in society, and though she loved her husband, she was soon said to be sharing the beds of many other men. Then, one of her lovers, the Earl of Hawksley, killed both her and himself.
Maura has lived her life filled with anger at her mother, but then her sister Jillian (the heroine of Sins of Midnight) discovers a journal of her mother’s, which reveals the truth about Elise’s life — and provides evidence that Hawksley was framed. Maura picks up where her sister left off, and uses her own devices to discover the murderer’s true identity. So, with the aid of an old friend of her mother’s, Maura finds herself at a debauched ball — a place a person like her would never be allowed to go. While searching for proof that the host killed her mother, she is attacked by a drunken guest and rescued by none other than the new Earl of Hawksley.
Gabriel Sutcliffe, Earl of Hawksley, grew up under the shadow of his father’s reputation, and fell right into place as the rake society expected him to be. But he is intrigued by the daughter of the woman who destroyed his family, against his better judgment, and is determined to discover what the innocent and prim Maura iss up to, and why she always seems to turn up in the most inappropriate places.
The beginning of the book moved too quickly, largely because I hadn’t read the earlier book in the series. Maura’s mother’s story was foreign to me, so I was somewhat disoriented for the first thirty or forty pages. Those familiar with the plot will no doubt be able to jump right in.
Though Maura and Gabriel were archetypal characters – the innocent belle of tne ton and the reformed rake – they were well-drawn and likable. More importantly, their psychological underpinnings interested me. Unlike in many romances, their behavior fit their make-up most of the time and they seemed real, albeit occasionally obtuse. For example, the manner in which Maura went about solving the murder of her mother didn’t make sense. She jumped to big conclusions that I was skeptical about. And the key to the mystery was weak as well. The fact that the whole plot is balanced on such a leap of logic was definitely a problem.
Equally troublesome were the number of times the heroine was nearly raped during the course of the story. Gabriel rescues her from that fate three times…in just as many weeks. It certainly helped develop Gabriel’s Hero status, but it crossed the reality line.
The plot in The Devil’s Temptation balances on some shaky ground. On the other hand, I liked Maura, Gabriel, and their romance. For me it was a better than average read; my guess is that those who read the first book in the series will like it even more.