We all need some historical romances in our lives every once in a while, but every time I dive into one, I end up reading five in a row. There’s something so addictive about losing myself in settings that are rich, vibrant and evocative of an age long past, an age that not only makes the characters who they are, but it also shapes the relationships between them. And while this old-fashioned brand of romantic love might not be for everyone, one cannot help but appreciate the way some of these stories tend to celebrate a woman’s independence and self-assurance, giving them much more of a contemporary feel than their time period would suggest. This was my first encounter with Sarah MacLean’s splendid writing and the beauty of her language quite literally took my breath away. She paints a vivid picture of nineteenth-century London’s dark underworld and the characters it comprises, as well as of the city’s more affluent classes, the quality of her prose standing out in a genre known for its lyrical delivery. I was entranced by the detail, the cadence, the movement of her words, but above all, by a love story that is sheer beauty beginning to end.
…she wanted more than a consolation of a marriage. That was the problem with Felicity. She’d always wanted more than she could have.
When Felicity Faircloth—the scandalous, unmarried daughter of a marquess—finds herself fleeing a glittering soirée held at the home of one of the city’s most eligible bachelors, desperate for respite from feeling shunned and out of place, the last thing she expects to find in the darkness is a mysterious stranger who seems to understand her better than anyone she’s ever known. His every question intrigues her, luring her deeper and deeper into the shadows surrounding him, but when she walks away from him, she expects to never see him again.
“Don’t you know, sir? Any unmarried woman’s time is well spent near to unmarried gentlemen.”
“Ah, so you haven’t given up on a husband.”
“Hope springs eternal,” she said.
He nearly laughed at the dry words. Nearly. “And so?”
“It’s difficult, as at this point, my mother has strict requirements for any suitor.”
Bastard son of a duke and one half of the notorious Bareknuckle Bastards—the reigning Kings of Covent Garden and its vast smuggling empire—Devil has worked hard to leave his painful past behind, and to become the kind of man that instilled fear in people at the mere mention of his name. But when a decade-old pact made by three brothers in arms is suddenly brought into question, Devil is forced to forge a plan that would not only punish the one who reneged on his word, but also use an innocent young woman as his perfect revenge by promising her what she desires the most.
“I don’t wish to be alone any longer.”
He nodded. “What else.”
“I wish to be wanted.” The truth hurt as it emerged, leaving an ache in her throat.
He nodded. “That’s why you lied at the start.”
“And why I agreed to our deal,” she said, softly. “I want it all. I told you. So much more than I can have.”
“You are worth all of them combined,” he said. “But hearing it from me is not enough, is it?”
A promise of marriage to a wealthy duke is all it takes for Felicity’s ill fortune to begin to change, but a deal made with the Devil is never without fine print, and she soon finds herself drawn to a dark world that should frighten her, but that only seems to embolden her. And in the midst of it all, she begins to fall for its King, a man determined to protect her from himself and the darkness he thrives in, a man who made her a pawn in a game she will inevitably lose.
“I want you, Devil. I want to woo you. I want to be your flame. But I fear . . . I fear I am your moth, instead.”
In Felicity Faircloth—aging spinster and lockpick extraordinaire—we are given a heroine who is a complex, compelling mix of strength and diffidence, and we cannot help but feel the sting of every one of her insecurities. And in Devil, we are given her perfect counterpart—a man who inspires her to take charge of her own destiny. Sarah MacLean’s beautiful prose only serves to enrich an already mesmerising story that kept me engrossed cover to cover, and immediately aching for the next book in the series.
“Here is something true, Felicity Faircloth, wallflower, lockpick, and wonder; there isn’t a single thing about you that is flawed.”