Degrees in English and American Studies, Keele University, Staffs, Read an Excerpt London, June The doors of the Savoir Faire club opened, throwing a path of light into the midnight street, and causing a flurry among the idling servants. Linkboys ran forward, torches streaming, to offer the gentlemen light on their way home. A hovering footman blew a whistle, however, and a response shrilled back from one of the coaches lined up in the street. With a few cheeky comments, the lads drifted back to an abandoned dice game in the shadows.
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This is the fifth book in the Malloren series and gives us the love story of the Marquess of Rothgar Beowulf Malloren and Diana, Countess of Arrandale.
Rothgar was first introduced in My Lady Notorious and has played a crucial role in each of the other Malloren books. The King is horrified and dispatches Rothgar to bring her to London to meet eligible men at Court and pick a husband or the King will pick one for her. And so the fun begins! I am happy to say that Rothgar was worth the wait. I had kind of given up on any Malloren book being able to equal Tempting Fortune or My Lady Notorious, her first two, but Beverley pulled it off with Devilish.
Cyn was aptly named and Bryght was everything one could want in a hero. Linda: Yes, Beverley has created some wonderful heroes who need strong women to match them. Portia in Tempting Fortune just dithered too long before she accepted the wonderful Bryght. Both Portia, and Rosa from Secrets of the Night, were so put upon and needed a bit more spine.
Beverley has managed to create the perfect mate for Rothgar, which is no small achievement. I would rather have a flawed heroine, like Portia. However, none of the Malloren series heroines are as satisfactory as the heroes until we meet Lady Diana, Countess of Arrandale, a secondary character in Secrets of the Night and the heroine of Devilish. Perhaps what I appreciate most about Devilish is that there are no easy outs.
Although the other Malloren novels took risks by pushing at the boundaries of the romance genre, with Devilish, Beverley broke through to a whole new level of writing. Above all, she gives us a complex characterization of Rothgar. We have come to know him as the head of his family, who will do anything to take care of them and insure their happiness. But, until Brand is married he has never really thought of happiness for himself. The conflict here is so real and believable.
Rothgar is bedeviled with having seen his mother strangle his infant sister to death as a child. Her insanity convinces him that he must never have children. He also realizes that if he walks away, Diana is going to be left bereft They are halves of one whole and definitely need each other.
The first love scene when he intends to only please her and tells her she can have anything she wants made me just love him. I never realized a foot massage could be so sexy! Rothgar fights loving Diana and puts walls between them emotionally, but when push comes to shove he is always there to help and encourage her. Diana is complex and believable as a heroine. It is a male version of the child Diana that her father gave to her as a toy.
This toy was a rebuke to both Diana and her mother for not presenting him with a son instead of a daughter. He knows that Diana leads as isolated and lonely an existence as he does, although people surround them both. Diana, in turn, comes to understand his compulsion for perfection in himself through his fascination with the automatons. Both authors use a non-human device to reveal very human emotions.
You could chat and communicate with him, which made him seem more real. The use of these non-human devices reflects the alienation and loneliness of the characters in both books. Beverley has a real knack for creating heroes who are truly heroic. One of my favorite scenes in all of romance is the brothel scene with Portia and Bryght in Tempting Fortune. The twist that Beverley gave to the oft-used brothel auction device was wonderful.
It was unique, and made you fall quickly in love with Bryght. Beverley writes wonderfully sensual love scenes and her level of sexuality fits these characters beautifully. Rothgar is more complex emotionally than his brothers, but with his childhood this is not surprising.
The Malloren men all know how to please a lady and Beverley lets us enjoy it too. And yet, it is all foreplay — there is no consummation. One of the villains is a known historical figure and she wove Rothgar into his life so well that one believes it could have happened that way. I also loved the glimpses of the young King George III and his wife; much different than when he was older. I have never seen her make an error in her books. Just on those automatons alone she must have done a lot of work.
Thus we learn that this one French diplomat is a real historical figure who cross-dressed, as needed, in his political ploys. Linda: Yes, I really enjoyed her notes at the end too. Beverley also does a good job of explaining Georgian terms within the context of the story.
These people are funny, witty and their conversations are just a delight. These books are very literate. They were also given to more hedonistic behavior yet their King was Mr. Family Man, intent on converting all of his subjects into nuclear families headed by the father as king of the family. The King is dangerous to Diana because he wants to mold her into his inflexible notion of womanly character and lifestyle.
Picturing Rothgar in red silk, ruffles, lace and high heels with painted face and powdered wig — ooh la la! Plus he was all man beneath those tight pants and coats. The descriptions of the stays, corsets, stomachers and even worse panniers and hoops make one glad for the invention of control top pantyhose.
Also, coating oneself in powder, paint and wigs is such an awful contrast with the way we live. Beverley has obviously done a lot of costume research; and you feel like you are there with her knack for details.
I also liked the way she dealt with birth control and menses. Certainly birth control was primitive in this historical period, and the most you could count on was spacing out the pregnancies. The fears of losing your wife in childbirth were very real. Bryght tells Rothgar about being almost paralyzed when Portia gave birth; he was so terrified of losing her.
They are very human; not perfect. Even with all of his power and talents, Rothgar is very much a prisoner of his guilt. She also details the deaths of his father and stepmother from a fever Rothgar brought home from school. When they died, Rothgar, at age 19, became head of the family.
This is a man who takes responsibility very seriously and feels guilty when things that were really beyond his control occur.
He even blames himself for not saving his sister when he was only four years old. There are no Big Misunderstandings or love-lost-through-stupidity as we see in all too many other romances.
At a couple of points, I waited for Beverley to take a route a lesser writer might have taken. She avoids one other pitfall too. The villains in these books, by contrast, are as real as the good guys. The loathsome father in My Lady Notorious is one of the creepiest in romance and yet, so believable that he gave me the willies.
It was painful to read some of the scenes with Chastity. He hits Chastity in My Lady Notorious and admits in Tempting Fortune that he would have bought Portia and raped her in the brothel scene. He had known her since she was a child and yet he would have used her rather than rescue her. This dimmed my enjoyment of Something Wicked a bit. This is why Something Wicked remains my least favorite of the five novels. However, not all readers believe Fort would have gone all the way with his villainy.
I saw this discussed in depth on a romance discussion list. Even Beverley got involved in this discussion and explained Fort would not have gone ahead and raped Portia in Tempting Fortune.
I told her she had convinced me that he would. However, her other readers were not having the problem I had in seeing Fort in a non-villainous light. There was a reenactment, called a masque, of a piece of poetry done on the stage regarding the goddess Diana. George III was such a dunderhead though, that he had to have Rothgar as his chief adviser. Rothgar was a hundred times smarter and more able to see political intrigues developing than George III was.
Rothgar should have been the CEO of the country, not George! I thought Beverley made Devilish a book that could stand on its own. I would recommend reading the series in order, but if someone has heard the uproar about Rothgar and wants to start with this one, I think they would enjoy it a lot and would be inspired to read the others.
Ideally though, if you are able to read them in order, you will probably get the most out of the Malloren series. Beverley pulled off the difficult job of capping a great series with a truly wonderful book and a believable HEA for this series. A reader definitely wants all five books not just three of them. One might like to put huge gold stars on the first, second and fifth though. Next month we are reading The Lover by a new author whose works are already collectible and much discussed on-line — Robin Schone.
Buy Devilish by Jo Beverley:.
Named as one of Romantic Times best romances of the past 20 years. Devilish was first published on 1st Apr by Signet . It was reissued on 1st Jan . It became available as an e-book, 31st Mar Read an excerpt of this book here. More info is available here: Malloren World Wiki The Marquess of Rothgar has been haunted all his life by witnessing his mother turn mad and murder his baby sister.
OK, this is probably more what the author had in mind Someone has been trying to kill Rothgar, setting him up to fight in duels, etc. OK, this is probably more what the author had in mind… Someone has been trying to kill Rothgar, setting him up to fight in duels, etc. He was there and tried to stop it, but he was only four. Meanwhile, Diana has her own reasons for never wanting to marry. If she marries, her husband will take over.
Chapter 1 London, June The doors of the Savoir Faire club opened, throwing a path of light into the midnight street, and causing a flurry among the idling servants. Linkboys ran forward, torches streaming, to offer the gentlemen light on their way home. A hovering footman blew a whistle, however, and a response shrilled back from one of the coaches lined up in the street. With a few cheeky comments, the lads drifted back to an abandoned dice game in the shadows.