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The Devil's Mistress Paperback – March 1, 2011
Living beneath the shadow of violence, Italian perfumer Allegra Grimaldi learned the killing arts from a religious assassin. She swore never to use her deadly skills, but a blackmailer has her by the proverbial throat. To save her family, she must infiltrate the court of King Henry VIII, poison the heretic Anne Boleyn—and frame Anne’s bastard brother for the crime. Honest and principled, Sir Joscelin Boleyn is the perfect pawn. This stalwart soldier and the fallen woman who breathes deception must learn to trust each other—and discover the one truth that could save them all.
About the Author
In her other life, Laura Navarre is a diplomat who’s lived in Russia and works with weapons of mass destruction. In the line of duty, she’s been trapped in an elevator in a nuclear power plant and stalked the corridors of facilities churning out nerve agent and other apocalyptic weapons. In this capacity, she meets many of the world’s most dangerous men.
Inspired by the sinister realities of her real life, Laura writes dark Tudor romance spiked with political intrigue. She lives in a vineyard in the Pacific Northwest. THE DEVIL’S MISTRESS is her first published title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and was never bored. Lots of good villains; it would have been great to have spent even more time with them and with the likes of Henry and Anne, who appear very little in the book. I like my historical fiction to have more details of daily life and more richness of setting. This book focused mostly on the suspense aspects, which was fine and kept up the pace, but I would have enjoyed it more if I'd had a richer sense of place.
I also felt that the main characters were missing something, and I can't quite put my finger on it. I wasn't deeply moved by either one, even though I wanted them to get together by the end. It could be that the milieu they were in (always having to hide their true selves behind masks) contributed to the distance I felt from them. Or perhaps the book should have been longer so that the author could have given more depth to the characters and the story. Even with the distance, I did find myself turning pages and reading just a bit longer, so the book was certainly entertaining.
Laura Navarre has a striking style and is certainly a writer to watch. I'll read more by her.
Diabolical machinations and the female condition at the Tudor Court are at the heart of Laura Navarre's The Devil's Mistress. In her play on history, Navarre selects the most turbulent and invigorating of times...Henry VIII's reign, and the rise of the Boleyn's. Navarre's debut historical romance chronicles the path of one woman's life to free herself from an untenable situation, to be reunited with her family, and perhaps finally allow herself to love. But even the most innocuous of desires can be almost impossible to achieve.
As the successor to Europe's most fabled assassin, The Hand of God, Allegra Grimaldi has trained since childhood to follow in her father's footsteps. She can either weave the most intoxicating perfume or craft a draught that will stop your heart and steal your breath.
Coerced into a vicious marriage at the tender age of 13 to Conte Casimiro Grimaldi and cowering under the shadow of her husband (and his fist), Allegra barely escapes the Inquisition in Italy shortly after her husband's death. Agreeing to a devil's bargain with the Ambassador of Spain who wishes to use her arcane talents at the court of Henry VIII, Allegra flees for England at Don Maximo Montoya's side. She is only his willing puppet as long as he holds her beloved father and sisters hostage. But one day she vows to free her family and rid herself once and for all of his evil Excellency.
As Allegra becomes accustomed to Henry's court, the rampant intrigues, and endless political machinations, she comes to the attention of Joscelin Boleyn, bastard son of Thomas, Lord Rochford. Newly arrived in England with some notoriety in France, Joscelin has escalated up the ranks of the French court by the skill of his blade alone. It also doesn't hurt that his courtly manners are not lacking. He is instantly drawn to Allegra and begins his pursuit of her. But the don keeps Allegra on a short leash and under constant surveillance and though Allegra feels the pull of Joscelin, she will not allow herself to succumb.
The Devil's Mistress is not a light romance, but woven thickly against the political backdrop of the Tudor Court and that brings a whole plethora of challenges when navigating a historical romance. Navarre spares little relief for her leads, especially Allegra who bears the burden of being trapped between the evil Don Maximo and the inevitable axe of the Inquisition. When Joscelin is manipulated by his father to use Allegra's vulnerability to a visiting inquisitor, she finds herself enclosed on all sides.
The Devil's Mistress' underlying theme regarding the constraint of the female condition in the Middle Ages in its own way outshines Navarre's attempt at romance between Joscelin and Allegra. Love, however fleeting between the two of them is a hefty obstacle to overcome-but possible. Navarre shows her readers those possibilities (as well as a few select breathlessly intimate scenes). The liaisons between them are filled with steamy sensuality and sexual discovery and that lends an assist to the overly political theme present at all times throughout the book.
By the last page of The Devil's Mistress I felt a bit wrenched, but generally satisfied with the conclusion.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)
When reading the novel I couldn't help but picture THE TUDORS. The book had the same sort of riveting intensity that makes the television series so addictive, and much like the TV series The Devil's Mistress is so much more than a just a love story; and refreshingly it doesn't focus mainly around Henry or his many wives. In Laura Navarre's Tudor world you understand and feel the fear, uncertainty...the perils and even the life taking risks that each character is motivated by as they navigate the Tudor court.
In some respects I think this book would have worked better strictly as historical fiction instead of historical romance because I felt that the romance between Joscelin and Allegra wasn't as important or crucial to the story as the devious plots and manipulations they found themselves a part of. For me too much of the story revolved around, and happened outside of their time together to make their love story as convincing as the rest of the book. There is no doubt that this author does intrigue well, and while the hero and the heroine expressed their love in both words as well as deeds, emotionally their love story didn't have the same intensity I felt the rest of the story had. As a result it felt as if they were more like allies who were attracted to each other and could form a mutually beneficial partnership, than two people who were on opposing sides and should have been enemies yet found love instead.
While the love story in The Devil's Mistress is the weakest aspect of the story, the novel as a whole is far from weak. Yet, if you are a true romance reader at heart and are seeking a romance set in the Tudor court you might be just a little disappointed that the love part of this love story doesn't play as important a role as other aspects of the plot. However, if you are a fan of historical fiction a la Phillipa Gregory than I think you will find a lot to love in The Devil's Mistress.
Overall: 4.0 stars
Sensuality level: 2.5 stars