Title: The Devil’s Temptress
Author: Laura Navarre
Redonk Nutshell: Shielded woman gets her armor cracked by brooding knight
Official Synopsis: In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to keep her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde. He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now: finding a spy for King Henry? Sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?
I have been itching to get my grubby paws on this book, mostly because it’s set in the 12th century. It’s no secret that I’m a nerd for history, but what most of you don’t know is that I have a soft spot for the crusades. It’s a fascinating time in history. Here’s another nerd confession – I love the video game Assassin’s Creed. Set in the midst of the third crusade, you trounce around 12th century Jerusalem, Acre, and other biblical cities assassinating people threatening peace. Ironic? Yes. Awesome? Totally. The game only gets more kick-ass as the series progresses (II & III are set in Renaissance Italy and feature a different dashing assassin). Yes, I know I harbor a weird, dark side.
Anyhow, I was intrigued by this book because it’s set in the same time period as AC1, and features a dark, brooding hero who is known for his barbarism in battles during the crusades. I was tickled pink when I was offered a chance to read and review it. I’ve never read anything by Laura Navarre, and I always enjoy a chance to try out new authors.
The Devil’s Temptress is the story of Alienore, a woman encumbered by a heavy burden of expectation. She is denied the right to her dowry by her brother, and runs to the court of imprisoned Eleanor of Aquitaine to escape an arranged marriage to the Duke of Ormonde. Alienore works for Eleanore, the King’s estranged and assumed treacherous wife, as her privy chancellor. She maintains a cold and impenetrable facade in order to keep herself safe, earning herself a reputation as “The Queen’s most virtuous lady.” While she’s stunningly beautiful, blunt, and whip sharp smart, she carries a secret – she’s a warrior at heart, taking up arms as a mysterious knight to champion women who know one else will. That’s how she first meets The Raven – in a joust to defend her cousin’s fledgling honor. Defeated, she vows to loathe the dark and dangerous knight, but he stirs something in her that no one else has – passion. And it scares the hell out of her.
I enjoyed The Devil’s Temptress. Navarre’s style of writing was refreshingly descriptive and intriguing. She painted beautiful characters and settings. There were twists and turns in the plot that kept me guessing. While Alienore started out as an icy pillar, by the end of the novel she had melted to a fiery woman who embraced what she wanted. The Raven is a dark, brooding sort of hero, the kind of man that some would make out to be a villain. At least, he believes that of himself. Alienore wakes his slumbering compassion, and he’s forced to come to terms with his developing feelings for her.
For some reason I had it in my head that this was an erotic novel. It’s not. It’s a sensual, engagingly romantic story, but it’s not erotic. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. What can I say? I’m a smutty, smutty girl. But hey, I can’t really fault the novel for my disappointment. It was extremely well written, and a wonderful, dark tale.
Romance: 3.5/5 Raunch: 1/5