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The Devil's Temptress Kindle Edition
|Length: 320 pages|
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The prose and pace were very good. Characters were not superficial cookie cutters. The story line was so interesting and enjoyable to me, that the silly beginning, and certain scenes in the culminating part of the book were not enough to dock one star or take away from the overall experience of reading this book.
The heroine has a pure heart, full of love, honor and courage yet she is not naive, or stupid, or reckless. The hero has a painful past (and present), of course, and he is ruthless to complete his mission; but throughout the whole story you see his good heart, bravery and loyalty showing.
It is easy to believe how these two characters meet and fall in love throughout the course of the book as they kick butt and try to survive Middle Age politics in the royal court.
The heroine, Alienore (not to be confused with the Queen, Eleanor), is a strong young woman in a world where most women are only chattel. Refusing to accept the match made by her brother she flees to France to become the Privy Chancellor to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Alienore is pure of heart, and somewhat naive and innocent of the ways of people, yet she is surrounded by courtiers who live and breathe deception, with ulterior motives behind every deed and word. While honest in many ways she strives to deny her passionate nature due to the sins of her mother by assuming the role of the Queen's most virtuous Lady.
Raven is her dark hero. He is darkness, just as much as Alienore is lightness. He has experienced the evil that resides in the soul of man during his Crusade, yet he has lived through those heinous and abominable acts committed against humanity. He is mysterious, brooding, and somewhat sinister...at least that is how he projects himself to others. And though he feels that he has lost all his faith in both God and humanity, and thinks that his soul, as well as his ability to love, has been eradicated...deep down where it matters most, he is strong, and honorable, and redeemable.
They are both courageous as well as champions to the causes that they believe in.
I think the author does an incredible job of creating the world that the characters live in. I thought that the character of Alienore was very intriguing, though maybe not completely believable. The reader is led to believe that she has lived a very sheltered life prior to fleeing her home and seeking shelter with the Queen, her Godmother. Because of that, I did find it a little hard to believe that she would be appointed as the Queen's Privy Chancellor given her young age and her naiveté, despite her bravery, though it did work to the Queen's advantage which, more than likely, is the reason for the decision to give her such an important role in the Queen's entourage.
Unlike Ms. Navarre's previous book, The Devil's Mistress, which I felt was more historical fiction than romance; The Devil's Temptress is wholeheartedly a historical romance novel. And while many outside influences drive the plot of the story, it revolves around the hero and heroine and their journey to find love with each other and within themselves. There are a few brief, yet affecting and intimate love scenes that explore their relationship, however I wish there would have been a few more revealing love scenes because I felt that it was important for Alienore's character to explore the passion that she tries to repress because of her Mother's infidelity. She becomes "Lady Virtue" because of this past scandal, and while The Raven tempts her to recognize the passion within herself that she ardently wishes to deny...she eventually succumbs to his seduction. I wanted to see Alienore recognize her true self because of her Devil's love. Even though this transformation is expressed in words, I felt it would have been more powerful for the reader to have Alienore embrace this ardent part of herself, and at the same time gain some forgiveness and understanding for her Mother through this awakening.
No one can argue the importance of having a great hero and heroine, but in a story like this one, you also have to have great villains. This story has a cast of great villains! Some are really evil, others are subtly manipulative...i.e. the type of characters that you love to hate ;) At first the reader is led to believe that it is Raven, The Devil, is who Alienore should fear the most, but there are hidden enemies around almost every corner. Because of complexity of the plot revolving around the villainous characters, I felt that the ending was a bit confusing, and as a result the dramatic end didn't have as much intensity as it could have had. There is one scene in particular, where the villains meet in private to finalize their plans that I think the reader would have benefited from being able to attend this meeting, that would have not only revealed the evil schemers and their plans, but I think it would have increased the sense of suspense and danger that awaited Alienore and Raven.
Yet, despite a slight tendency to overuse descriptive adjectives and a somewhat liberal use of purple prose, I really enjoyed The Devil's Temptress and all of its characters. I thought the plot was captivating, with a little surprise towards the end that I did not expect involving the hero. Overall, I felt it was a very good read that any fan of historical romance is sure to enjoy. In my opinion, Laura Navarre keeps getting better with each book she writes, and I can't wait for her next novel!
Overall: 4.25 The Devil's Temptress
Sensuality level: 3.0-Sensual, but not explicit
Adding romantic intrigue we have Raven, a tall, dark and, much maligned hero fresh from the Crusades albeit tainted with Saracen blood and favored by Henry II. To match him we have the gorgeous, honorable, ice-maiden heroine, Alienore. Unfortunately she does become somewhat tiring with her proclamations about courtly conduct.
Trapped in the middle of royal intrigue and whim, the machinations of claiming thrones and kingdoms by Henry II, Eleanor and Eleanor’s son, Henry—not to mention Richard and John, Alienore is never sure which side she should take, which is the more honorable.
Of course the pages sizzle with sexual frission as Ailenore and Raven fight their attraction, caught between their particular loyalties and duties and their barely damped down desire.
They both do their best to repudiate and stamp down this attraction but the fires of passion consume them and ignite the pages in either anger or lust--yet honor must have its way.
Not great literature but The Devil’s Temptress is a good medieval romance set against the turbulent history of the times.
NetGalley ARC. (Kindle)