The lair of the Devil Earl, perched precariously on a sea cliff like the castle in Dark Shadows. A night filled with tempest-tossed seas and the crackles of thunder. A tall and brooding hero, accused of murder.
These sound like the perfect ingredients for a gothic novel, right? Well, those elements are in place, but what's purposely missing is the damsel in distress.
The damsel not-in-distress is Prudence Lancaster, a bespectacled author with ink-stained hands. She is strong, level-headed, intelligent and determined. She is also on the shelf, never having noticed her body beyond the fact that it is unfashionably tall, bronzed, and leggy. Her face? She has never noticed its beauty behind the glasses her sister, "the pretty sister," has her constantly wear.
The Devil Earl is the hero. Dark, intense, with brooding gray eyes, Sebastian Ravenscar has been a party to all sorts of carnal debauchery in the past. He has never met a woman who could satisfy him in body and mind...until he meets Prudence. She alone is not afraid of him - she sees him as a pagan god capable of providing the thrills she has only written about.
Prudence and Sebastian fit together in body, mind, and soul. Sebastian's discovery of the delights of Prudence are many and filled with loving humor. It's such fun to read Sebastian's erotic musings -- he lusts after her ink-stained hands and delights in removing her spectacles. It's so enjoyable to have a heroine reach out and literally grab (ahem) what she wants.
Deborah Simmons has accomplished in this regency-set historical a gentle parody of a gothic novel. There are enough superficial similarities to Amanda Quick's Ravished that I feared The Devil Earl would be a clone. Happily, the books are not so similar after all. And Simmons' book is actually better -- the heroine and hero are more attractive and believable, and there are secondary characters who grow to become enjoyable as well.
What's more, this author has fashioned wonderfully erotic love scenes - no doubt Sebastian's early lessons from his debauched youth will provide a life-time of bliss for Prudence. And she, with her ink-stained hands, imagination, and loving soul, will stimulate his mind, body, and heart forever.
Deborah Simmons has followed up the wonderful The Vicar's Daughter with another Regency-era historical that is easy to read, funny, and sexy. Those of us who have been disappointed by the latest works of our favorite authors need not fear the same with this author. It's not a perfect book, there is no earth-shattering intensity, but it is such a delightful romp - who cares?
TTFN, Laurie Likes Books
Publisher, All About Romance