Tempting A Devil (The Saint’s Devils #2)
Ebury Publishing (Random House UK)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Harriet Mercer is a widow but she’s wealthy and beautiful and if she were so inclined, she could have any pick of eligible men as her next husband. Married off to a much older man by her father at a young age, Harriet’s first experience with marriage has definitely not made her at all inclined to try it again. Harriet is being blackmailed by a man who wants to marry her for her considerable fortune and the only way she feels she can escape this fate is to blacken her name among the ton so badly that no one will be able to marry her and stay an acceptable part of society. She needs to convince the man blackmailing her that she’s not worth it, no matter how much money her late husband has left her.
Harriet’s childhood friend Roger Templeton is a rogue, a rake with no prospects. After witnessing (and then rescuing her from) Harriet’s attempts at a public seduction, Roger finds himself her very next target. Harry decides that Roger is the perfect man to execute her fall from grace and what’s better is that she knows him so it won’t be too difficult for her. What she doesn’t count on is Roger’s steadfast refusal to enter into a physical affair with her, despite her very best efforts at chasing him down publicly.
Roger isn’t known as a Devil for nothing but suddenly he finds himself uncomfortably noble when it comes to Harry and her honor. But as the danger from the blackmailer increases, Roger realises that he’d do anything to protect Harry. Even change his life for her.
Historical romance continues to be my poison at the moment. I didn’t realise when I requested this one from NetGalley that it was the second in a series but ultimately I don’t think it matters. Although the couple from the first book do appear, it’s quite brief and you don’t really need to know their story to read this one. I would like to read it through, because it did sound pretty interesting!
Harry and Roger were childhood friends, or as much as a 10 year old girl and a 15 year old boy could be in that she followed him everywhere and he was constantly getting her out of scrapes. She dreamed of maybe marrying him when they grew up but Roger went back to school and disappeared and Harry’s father married her off to a very rich older man. She’s now widowed after what seemed a very unhappy marriage and there’s a notorious man who clearly has some information on her that is using it to blackmail her. Harry is attempting to pay him off but what he really wants is to marry her and control her substantial fortune, left to her by her late husband to manage until her very young son comes of age and can inherit properly.
Harry’s masterminded plan to get out of having to marry her blackmailer is to utterly ruin her reputation, make her such an unattractive prospect as a wife that there’s no way her blackmailer’s family could ever condone their marrying. Considering Harry doesn’t ever want to marry again after her first experience, it’s a pretty genius plan – nothing ruins a lady’s reputation so much as ‘loose behaviour’ and double standards so she tries luring men outside at gatherings in order to seduce them. Her first attempt is interrupted by Roger – neither of them know who the other is as it’s been some years since they’ve seen each other. Harry has had second thoughts about her seduction attempt but her victim is none too pleased to be given the pointy end of a sharp stick until Roger intervenes on her behalf. There’s an immediate attraction between them, which becomes a little awkward when Roger figures out who she is. It’s obvious to him that he can’t just ruin his childhood friend Harry and he had better be in possession of all of his self-control around her. Harry definitely wants to be ruined, both because it would help her and also because Roger is the first man who has ever actually made her want to be intimate with him. It takes some time before the reader finds out just how odd and degrading Harry’s marriage must have been and the effect that would’ve had on her self-esteem and self-worth.
I did quite enjoy this story although at times I do feel like both Harry and Roger overcomplicated things for themselves. For example, Roger becomes aware that someone is attempting to hurt Harry and is sending her letters and Harry of course, knows who it is and why. Instead of telling Roger, she keeps it to herself which means that Roger wastes time trying to find out who it is and why they’d want to hurt her. Harry might’ve been embarrassed but it would’ve made things a hell of a lot easier and probably prevented some things from happening if she’d just been up front about her predicament. It sort of dragged things out a bit longer in that several people confronted her blackmailer and believed it over and then it wasn’t over. I was surprised that Harry was so cavalier about things, especially after there was an obvious display of willingness to use her son against her. You’d have thought she’d have done much more to secure her house and protect herself and her boy but she seemed to think that her little game of having an affair would work, even after it was made clear that it wouldn’t. I do think she was a little naive and underestimated how much the blackmailer needed her fortune.
A fun read and I’d like to catch up on the first one and then read the third one which is out later this month.
Book #237 of 2014