In way of explanation, these novellas are part of a serial of stories and I am choosing to offer up review for just these last two. They are the two-part story of Ludovic ‘Devil’ DeVere’s Romance. While these two stories place he and Diana front and center and seem to be able to stand apart from the first two stories, I would recommend reading them in order because there is an emotional story arc that is started in the first book that will give the reader a feel for both characters that is built upon in the last two books. But without further ado-
Oh yes, its quite obvious this series is headed into the homestretch as this story both answered and created a lot of mystery in the main story thread that has been tying the series together. It is book three in the series, but chronologically it falls before book one because it takes the story back to the time hinted at in the first two books when the reader is given broad hints of a past history between DeVere and Diana involving the death of her husband and a clandestine passionate interlude. It tantalized me for so long and here, in this book, I finally got to the bottom of it.
In this installment, there is first the usual prologue, but this one is about a younger DeVere. The short piece is a splendid revelation into the making of the older, jaded version of DeVere. Then fast forward a few years. Diana, Edward, and Amalee (yes, sweet Amalee is alive and a delight to know in this her swan song story) are en route to enjoy the hospitality of Edward’s friend Lord DeVere during the race meet. Diana’s husband has gone on ahead of them with the race horse from their stable and her own mare that they are hoping to entice someone to use for stud. Diana has time to reflect on the reasons for her husband’s absences from her side and is not blind to her empty marriage particularly when she has the evidence before her eyes of a loving marriage between her cousin, Amalee, and her husband.
On arrival, Diana is surprised by the appearance of DeVere and highly aroused though she pretends not to be by his immediate interest in her as a woman. But other matters start to distract her when she discovers that her husband never arrived though the horses and grooms did and when she discovers that a sour jealous woman who currently warms DeVere’s bed looks on her as a rival. DeVere himself gets bolder with his interest and invitations, but she resists.
Even while DeVere plots to have the enticing Diana in his bed, he is busy trying to pluck her worthless husband out of trouble at a gaming party hosted by DeVere’s shady neighbor at the same time that he must give Caroline, his current fling, her conge. Caroline proves tenacious and doesn’t plan to be turned aside.
And the plot just keeps on getting better when murder, blackmail, usury, dark secrets, and betrayal become part of the game. I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone so I’ll stay silent about the details regarding all that. Suffice to say, it was an engrossing plot that was full of excitement and intrigue.
Now the part of the plot I will speak to is Ludovic and Diana’s passionate affair. There is much tension while she keeps herself under restraint, but when a terrible secret is revealed it gives her the impetus to go with her desires for once. Their passion is five alarm fire hot. Though he holds a vast deal of experience and she very little, it is these refreshing differences that serve to give them both the most pleasure. Somehow, in the process of sating their physical needs, they both discover a deeper connection and contentment together. It was one of those horrid moments when I realized that it wasn’t going to be enough because of the jealousy and greed of another. I was warmed to know the truth and was sad that Ludovic had to keep the truth from Diana and let her think the worst of him to protect her.
So what with the strong regrets for what couldn’t be between DeVere and Diana and with the unsolved mystery of the murder (yes, it remained unsolved though everyone was pointing fingers), I am dying to read the next installment. I love how the story arc of DeVere and Diana in this series just keeps getting drawn taunter and tighter so that I am left in anticipating and wanting more.
Wow! Oh, was I supposed to say more? Ah, well! Let’s see-
Diana and DeVere together was combustible caliente. I have been waiting for the final match and conclusion to their story since book one of the series. The story arc built and built with mystery and intensity through the last book to finally explode in a very erotic battle of wits to determine who would call the shots for what kind of relationship they were to have. Was it to be DeVere who only sought to sate his lust and explore this unique feeling that he only had with Diana so he could get her out of his system? Or was it to be Diana who knew what she had with DeVere, but had been left with a shattered heart that she has no desire to offer him to crush all over again?
The story opens with the return of Captain Hew and Vesta to declare they intend to marry. Diana, Ned, Phoebe and DeVere are all involved in the happy couple’s marriage arrangements. But the real passion smoldering under the surface is that of DeVere and Diana. They both have a real push-pull thing going on for different reasons and this leads to many scenes where it is a real contest of wills. My favorite scene was the horse race that held an intriguing bet attached to it. I was really hoping for a certain end result and got it.
The next part of the story is so sensual. Diana wants to bring DeVere to his knees so she decides to take a Turkish beauty trained in the erotic arts up on her offer of instruction. And whew-boy did she score high marks with her first opportunity to show what she had learned.
The final segment begs to ask the fifty dollar question. Will they or won’t they? Will they get together or will DeVere’s hang-ups be too much?
Now, I really loved this second part and ending story. The intense battle of wills between DeVere and Diana was strong and well written. I was intrigued by the adding in of the Ottoman Empire harem culture aspect. DeVere’s past was laid bare finally for Diana to really see him in a sympathetic light and not just as a selfish man taking his empty pleasures. I only had one disappointment and it didn’t ruin the story or anything. It was the rushed feeling I got at the end of their first night in his home. I felt like I had whiplash when it went from Diana determined to finish out her stay and get away from him to protect her heart and then with no mention of a change of mind on her part, it segued to them being together in Italy under his terms (I actually scrolled back to see if I skipped a page). The ending was all I could want it to be- ah yes! I cracked up at the epilogue- ironic ending for them.
This was a hot intense read that I heartily recommend for those who love their historical romance extra spicy.