The storyline seems simple, but the story is not.
Sidonie Saint-Godard, sister of the fascinating George Kemble whom we know from previous novels, teaches deportment by day but isn't quite as respectable as she outwardly seems.
As the Black Angel she takes revenge on less than honorable men who've hurt women in one way or another.
When she sees how the Devil of Duke street, Devellyn, casts off yet another one of his mistresses who live across the stree from her, she decides he will be her next victim.
When the Black Angel leaves him tied naked to the bed in a seedy bar, Devellyn is livid. He vows he'll find Ruby Black and take what she cheated him out of.
In the meantime, he is forced to take up residence in his former mistress's house and meets his neighbor, the lovely French widow Sidonie. While he is still obsessed with earthy Ruby, he becomes fascinated by feisty Sidonie.
Sidonie is equally intrigued by Dev and soon starts to realize she might have made a mistake...
There are so many elements in this story I loved, but I'll try to keep it simple.
Aleric, the Devil Duke is my favorite kind of hero - a seriously tormented, big, brawny man. He is convinced his soul is "just a shade from black", and with good reason. This doesn't keep him from being honest about his feelings though. And he feels deeply. He's a complex character who's both cynical to the marrow and yet surprisingly open.
Sidonie/Ruby is a strong, independent woman with a mind of her own. She knows what she wants and acts without hesitation. Like Devellyn she has demons of her own that have shaped her.
Both Dev and Sid/Ruby were real persons to me. Fleshed out, with substance. I completely understood Dev's fascination, or obsession, with Ruby from the minute she opened her mouth. I thought they were perfect for each other.
While this is an intense and sexy read, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments. I was giggling when Sid and Aleric first "officially" met, I laughed out loud at their second conversation and the scene when they got together after that was just plain hilarious. I won't get into what else made me sputter, but you'll know when you read it *eg*.
It's hard to explain just why Liz Carlyle's writing captivates me so. Is it the finely drawn characters with their complex emotions? The incredibly hot men and strong women who feel intensely and obsessively? The way she makes 19th century England come alive with smell and sound? The beautiful prose, or the way there isn't a superfluous chapter or scene to be found?
Maybe it's the tension that radiates from each book. Maybe it's because her stories are just a bit darker, a bit more suspenseful and a lot more seductive than most other romance novels?
I'm not sure, all I know is that ALL of her novels have grabbed me in a way most others can't, no matter how much I enjoy them.
THE DEVIL TO PAY is no exception!!