This Regency novel, the second in a series about sisters who secretly have brains and use them to form opinions and write things, is about Anna and Devlin. Anna’s family was poor, and she was groomed to catch a rich man for a husband to save them all. Her manners are impeccable, her reputation is spotless, and her suitors are wealthy. However, in the previous book, her older sister landed a man of wealth and now Anna is off the hook.
At the beginning of the book, Anna is just beginning to wonder what she’s looking for, after all. She secretly writes a successful series of adventure novels under a male pen name, and she’d rather spend her time researching harrowing adventures and turning them into stories than participating in the social scene.
Lord Davenport, Devlin, is a rake. You know the sort — he’s got a bad reputation. He’s in the scandal sheets. Mothers warn their daughters away from him. He gambles, has affairs, and everyone conversing with him says things like, “By golly, Davenport, you’re such a rake! Your actions are so roguish! You are behaving quite as I’d expect from a devil such as you!” He’s also poor.
Anna and Devlin met in the previous book (which I haven’t read), so when they encounter each other at a ball, they don’t act like polite strangers. In fact, they end up alone on a balcony and Devlin kisses her, for no reason other than that he can. They are two enigmas, each with a secret. The book points out on multiple occasions that the two of them appear black and white, good and evil, angel and devil. Their journey to each other is also a journey toward a middle ground, a mixture of light and dark for each of them.
Most of the book takes place at a house party in Scotland, and it includes a bit of international intrigue, the kind that Anna writes about in her novels. I enjoyed the location, and I wasn’t overwhelmed by all of the guests at the house party. Anna is a fun, smart character, and so is her younger sister. Devlin is a sexy guy, but I felt that he relied on his reputation a little too much when interacting with others. “You know me, I’m a rake, you can’t expect me to be polite or anything.”
While the house party gives the characters a lot of time to have private moments, Anna and Devlin spend much of their time exchanging snappy arguments. It’s intellectual and amusing, although not necessarily romantic. My only problem with this book was that they would go from argumentative banter to steamy encounter, and then back to banter without really acknowledging the steamy encounter until the very end. I understood their growing intellectual attraction, but the bridge connecting that to their stolen kisses didn’t seem entirely there. However, I totally love how Devlin, when thinking of things he likes about Anna, lists her mind first, her smile second, and her body third.
The shenanigans were a bit of a stretch, but they did tie in with the type of novels that Anna writes so I give them a pass. The outer appearance versus inner secrets distinction was hammered in a few too many times, same with the Anna/Angel Devlin/Devil pairing. But overall, the book was fun and well-written. It includes the line, “One can never be bored with books as company,” which makes you think the author is One of Us, and that’s pretty cool.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Cara Elliott
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing