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REVIEW: To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt

Okay people, listen up. This is the last book in the series and the whole thing is a spoiler for the first three books. You have been warned.

Dear Ms Hoyt,

0446406945.01.LZZZZZZZCapturing my attention for an entire series before I’ve even read the first book is something. Me remembering that a new book in a series is coming out without having someone remind me of it is something. Keeping my attention and enthusiasm for a series all the way into book four is something. So don’t be bummed that the grade for this one is lower than most of the others.

At last, here we are at the final book of the series when the bombshell, which was hurled at us in the preview included at the end of the previous book, explodes. For the length of the other three books and all during the seven years since the horrible events at Spinners Falls in the Colonies, everyone has known that Captain Lord Reynaud Hope, heir the Earldom of Blanchard, is dead. The pitifully few fellow Englishmen taken with him as captives by the Indian allies of the French saw poor Reynaud die. Two years later, his father died in England and the Earldom passed on to a distant relative, Reginald St. Aubyn who now lives with his niece, Beatrice Corning, as his hostess.

The boring tea being held by the Earl for his political cronies becomes less boring, in fact it becomes the talk of London, when Reynaud bursts into the room looking like a savage himself. And suddenly, right in the same house with her, lives the man with whom Beatrice fell in love when she and her uncle moved into Blanchard house and Beatrice first saw the portrait of Reynaud which hangs in the blue salon.

Only the man himself is nothing like she imagined. Gone is the laughing young man who left with his fellow soldiers for America. In his stead is a man who frightens half of London with his sometimes crazed behavior and who terrifies the one man who never thought his traitorous deeds would be uncovered. Is Reynaud a man who can find some tenderness and love in his heart for this woman who now loves him as he is instead of as how she dreamt he was? Or will the traitor finish what was started seven years ago before Reynaud is able to rediscover how to love?

Perhaps this book suffers somewhat from the “Devilish” syndrome wherein readers eagerly await a final book with a promised hero who then must live up to impossible standards. Perhaps it was the balance of the story which felt somewhat off to me. Maybe I wasn’t completely convinced of the hero’s sudden capitulation into headlong love for his heroine, who has already committed her heart to him by the middle of the story. I’m not sure what is the cause but I ended this book feeling somewhat let down.

Beatrice is a lovely heroine who compliments the other strong heroines she follows. She’s practical but with a romantic streak. She wants to believe that romance survives matrimony despite the unexpected “thud” sound she hears that heralds the letdown a dear friend is experiencing with her own marriage. Beatrice has been courted a little but no man has ever lived up to the dream she’s embroidered in her head about Reynaud. Yet, when the man himself doesn’t live up to her fantasy, she takes stock, really looks at her feelings and admits that she’s fallen for him as he is. She pushes for him to reveal to her parts of his captivity so that she’ll know him better. She doesn’t shrink from his grimness nor make excuses for him nor patronize him with empty platitudes. She wonders if her love alone will be enough for the two of them and she’s willing to accept this if that’s how it will be. In other words, she isn’t a missish weakling.

Reynaud is tortured, literally so as we learn throughout the course of the novel. He’s withstood seven years of hell by the overriding desire to get home. He’s been changed by his experience, as are all men who’ve survived war, and will never be the carefree man he was. If he had not been written with lingering effects, I would have cried foul. That he is resistant to anything which might weaken him, even if he might not be aware of that, is logical. He avoided the things which could have tied him to his Indian captors – marriage and children – and initially he avoids the deeper feelings which he might develop for Beatrice. His decision to marry is based on what it could gain him in other respects rather than for any tender feelings.

I was going to say that as with Hartley, Reynaud is too alpha for my tastes. He pays lip service to Beatrice’s wants too often. However, in his defense, I will allow that managing to live through what he did would probably turn almost anyone into an alpha just to survive. But if he’d come at me the night after taking my virginity and told me that I didn’t have enough experience with sex to know if I really wanted it again that night or not, I’d have told him, “Dude, you don’t know my knee well enough to know how it’s going to feel when I ram it up between your legs. But I’d be happy to let you find out.”

It takes too many outside influences to push Reynaud towards love. First Beatrice’s friend, Jeremy Oates, who is himself a broken survivor of war, has to extract a promise from Reynaud to take care of Beatrice when, up to then, all Reynaud can think when he sees Beatrice is “mine!” Then when the traitor makes his move and uses Beatrice as a pawn – and haven’t we seen too much of that already in this series? – suddenly, WHAM! Reynaud’s iron hard shell cracks and it’s love. Usually I enjoy watching how the fairy tale chapter headers mirror the action in the book but the heavy handed “bang me over the head with it” true love which has the strength to conquer the Goblin King (read traitor) ending of this one almost made me snicker.

I will say that I enjoyed watching Munroe and Hartley effectively spike the guns which were aimed at the bill which Beatrice and Lottie had worked so tirelessly for. It doesn’t take grand gestures to effect change, just smart ones. I wished that the subplot involving Lottie and Nate had got more resolution instead of the half baked “feel good” ending which didn’t seem to deal with the deeper issues which had caused them to separate. The outing of the traitor of Spinner’s Falls also fell flat for me. I had wanted all the information we had to be tied together somehow and the identity to be a “WOW, I should have seen this!” moment for me. Instead I felt cheated by the sleight of hand.

I wanted to finish this series with a bang. I wanted to close the book and feel replete, sated, emotionally spent – but in a good way. I felt a mild dose of these things but not the whole hog experience I was longing for. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book. I enjoyed it and seeing Reynaud and Beatrice find their HEA but it’s not quite the book I was hoping for. B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon. The book will be available in ebook form on November 1 which is either the official release date or a way for publishers to punish you ebook readers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

27 Comments

  1. Dana
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 04:07:29

    I skimmed through the review, cause I don’t want to be spoiled and I have to wait until Sunday to buy the ebook version. Ugh. Stupid publishers.

    But I’m glad to see you enjoyed most of it. I’ve been looking forward to it since the teaser in To Beguile a Beast.

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  2. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 04:09:10

    Probably the best line I’ve read in a romance review to date: “Dude, you don't know my knee well enough to know how it's going to feel when I ram it up between your legs. But I'd be happy to let you find out.” It gave me a serious case of the LOLs this morning. So thank you.

    I pre-ordered this on my Kindle, but I’m definitely not happy that it’s not available the same day as it released in print.

    But going back to the book . . . I’ve read that the traitor is rather obvious. Has this person appeared in any of the other books, or does the traitor suddenly make his/her appearance in this book? I’m still looking forward to reading this book, to see how Hoyt wraps up this series.

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  3. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 04:19:53

    @Dana: Well, if you read the teaser, then you already know the major spoiler for this book and that is who the hero is. I’ve seen this listed at Fictionwise. Is it just an advanced purchase?

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  4. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 04:23:41

    @Elyssa Papa: Glad to start your day off with a laugh.

    So the print edition is out now but not the ebook? That seriously sucks.

    The traitor has been in the previous books but the clues about who he is start dropping faily quickly after Reynaud makes his appearance.

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  5. Dana
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 04:30:31

    @Jayne: It’s just a pre-order at fictionwise. But at least it’s only a few days between paper and ebook. Some publishers make you wait months without giving a release date, so by the time the ebook does come out, I’ve completely forgotten about it. I’m just a little bitter. :p

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  6. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:14:34

    @Jayne: Yup, the print came out on Tuesday. The e-book’s not available until 11/1. Boo on that.

    Good to know about the traitor. I have a suspicion (I forget what his name is off the top of my head) but I’m curious as to see if I’m right or not.

    Is there a reunion of sorts between all the past heroes in this one? I saw Hartley and Munro mentioned, but not Vale.

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  7. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:18:36

    @Jayne: Is it really a spoiler that the hero is the “supposed” dead guy, Reynaud? I kept preparing myself for a my brother is not really dead moment in the first book, so I wasn’t shocked when the teaser came at the end of TO BEGUILE A BEAST. (Although part of me does wish that the brother had actually died—I know . . . I’m sick and twisted.)

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  8. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:20:06

    @Dana:

    so by the time the ebook does come out, I've completely forgotten about it. I'm just a little bitter. :p

    Well, with my gray matter starting to give up the ghost, I sometimes forget books which are due soon even if I’m not waiting for them as ebooks. I’m glad you won’t have to wait long for this one.

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  9. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:24:24

    @Elyssa Papa: As for the spoiler, I kept wondering through the first book but then in the next two, both heroes were so certain Reynaud was dead, they had seen him die, and it seemed to be a done deal. I totally agree with you that a little, sick part of me hoped that Hoyt would stick to her guns and keep him dead but with the penchant for twisting this kind of thing around, I wasn’t that surprised. However, if anyone hasn’t read the first three books and I didn’t want this to spoil their day before they’d even cracked those books open.

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  10. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:26:38

    @Elyssa Papa:

    Is there a reunion of sorts between all the past heroes in this one? I saw Hartley and Munro mentioned, but not Vale.

    Oh, yes sorry! Vale is all over the place. And there’s a little Vale in the making, too.

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  11. Elyssa Papa
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 05:40:43

    @Jayne: Duh to me—I totally forget that there might be some readers who haven’t read the first three. I totally get that about the spoiler warning. Yes, that’s exactly what happened with me—I was expecting it in the first book and then books 2 and 3 come along where the heroes kept saying oh, he’s definitely dead because we saw bad things happen. So I thought that Hoyt was going to keep him dead and thought it would have been an interesting twist to the series (because I’ve read too many romances where the “dead” hero comes back. I’m looking at you, Dare). I’m not complaining that Reynaud is alive because I’m sure he has issues. Like all Hoyt’s heroes do.

    And a little Vale in the making? How adorable. I wonder if he’ll be sleeping on a different type of bed, too. ;-)

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  12. vanessa jaye
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 08:33:45

    I didn’t even skim this review because I’m looking forward to reading the book when if goes on sale Nov 1 (that’s if it’s even available at Chapters-Indigo on that date! They can be a little slow in getting stuff on the shelves sometimes.) Glad to see you enjoyed the book, though.

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  13. Jennifer M.
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 09:03:18

    Aw, a little Vale? That is so sweet. Vale & Melisande are my favorite couple of the quartet so far and Book 2 is such a well written character study and HOT, HOT, HOT.

    I couldn’t stand Emmeline in Book1, she so didn’t deserve Sam, imo and Book 3 felt a little anti-climactic, I wanted more of the beauty & beast wrestle.

    But no matter I feel with Hoyt even her “B grade” books are pretty darn good!!
    She has a knack for storytelling and heroes are her thing.

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  14. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 09:09:16

    @Jennifer M.: Well, Emmeline and Sam show up for this book and Emmeline is suitable proprietorial about her brother and whether or not the woman he’s married is worthy of him.

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  15. Lizzy
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 09:25:56

    I too, only skimmed the review, as I am waiting for my Nov. 1 Kindle download. Even if the series ends with more of a whisper than a bang, I’ll still be OK with that. Hoyt’s like L. Chase or J.A. Long to me — even when it’s not their best, it’s still better than so many other authors.

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  16. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 09:31:44

    @Elyssa Papa:

    And a little Vale in the making? How adorable. I wonder if he'll be sleeping on a different type of bed, too. ;-)

    LOLOL. Can’t you just see the whole eventual family in sleeping bags?

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  17. Jayne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 09:33:14

    I’m getting this mental picture of hundreds of Kindle owners, hunched over their ereaders, poised for the moment it downloads – or whatever it does.

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  18. Jennifer M.
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 10:30:59

    Well, Emmeline and Sam show up for this book and Emmeline is suitable proprietorial about her brother and whether or not the woman he's married is worthy of him.

    Why am I not surprised? Emmeline was written just a tad too tart for my taste. Ooh…I can’t wait to get to my Borders this weekend!

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  19. Bonnie
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 10:32:50

    @Jayne:

    I'm getting this mental picture of hundreds of Kindle owners, hunched over their ereaders, poised for the moment it downloads – or whatever it does.

    Haha! Too true. I’m waiting too.

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  20. SonomaLass
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:41:05

    I pre-ordered this for my daughter for her birthday — in print, to be delivered to her Borders. That’s over a thousand miles from me, so I won’t even get to borrow it! She has a Kindle, but I can’t buy her books for it. I thought I was going to my Borders today, but plans changed. It will be Friday before I get my hands on this book.

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  21. marga
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 16:29:05

    Just finished reading it and its great!!!
    Although i felt that Reynaud didnt really tell the whole story of wht happened to him.
    But it was a good read!

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  22. Mireya
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 07:38:56

    It’s no spoiler who Reynaud is. It was pretty obvious from the teaser in book 3 and the excerpts you ccould find everywhere online.

    The villain, well, on book 3 I pretty much knew, on book 4 it was just confirmed.

    Ebook not out until 11/1 … also, I couldn’t get it from either of my closest B&Ns (either the one close to my home or the one in Fifth Avenue) until Wednesday. That pissed me off to no end.

    I am midway through it (just started it this morning) and so far I am liking it, I think, a bit more than you Jayne. I don’t think it’s going to be my favorite in the series though, as much as I may be enjoying it.

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  23. Jayne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:08:53

    @marga: No, he never does spill all does he? But as he swore he’d not reveal his scars then ends up doing it, maybe he’ll eventually tell Beatrice everything. I get the feeling she’ll keep digging at him until he does. And it would probably be good for him.

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  24. Jayne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:14:15

    @Mireya:

    also, I couldn't get it from either of my closest B&Ns (either the one close to my home or the one in Fifth Avenue) until Wednesday. That pissed me off to no end.

    Wow, getting your hands on this book seems to be turning into a major effort for people – which I think truly sucks. It surprises me since it’s the last book in the series and I would think the publisher would know people want it and they want it now, damn it!

    I am midway through it (just started it this morning) and so far I am liking it, I think, a bit more than you Jayne. I don't think it's going to be my favorite in the series though, as much as I may be enjoying it.

    I agree with lots of statements that even a subpar Hoyt is still a good book. I was just hoping for a little more. I’ve only read one review – at AAR – and she appeared to like it more than I did, too, so hopefully it’ll keep working all the way through for you.

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  25. vanessa jaye
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:30:03

    Went into my favourite Chapters-Indigo yesterday, the book wasn’t on the shelf but there were two showing in their inventory. I asked the sales associate if she could go in back and grab a copy for me. She did. And put the other copy on hold for herself. lol.

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  26. LizPeaches
    Nov 07, 2009 @ 05:27:49

    I agree that this book was disappointing. I’ll give that Reynaud’s alpha-ism was well earned on the battlefield, but that excuse didn’t make him more attractive as a protagonist. I disliked him more than I disliked Samuel in book one, and that was a lot.

    And while there was a lot about Beatrice I did like, I just can’t get behind her completely because–and am I asking too much of a genre full of characters that think with their privates?–she kept reinforcing his bad behavior with the sex. The whole “You’re sad about your fiend, I will comfort you with my penis whether you like it or not”, or the whole “Silly version, Tricks are for kids” or whatever the frick that was…surfice it to say I did not find it sexy. I don’t consider a romance novel successful if I’m skipping the nauty bits because they’re an emotional turn off.

    I know she was worried about her uncle, but Reynaud was an asshole and I think she should have at least gone for the low blow in their arguments, or made him sweat about the proposal at least once. As it was, he took her compliance for granted and she let him.

    What I LOVED about Melisande so much was that she made her position abundantly clear to Jasper when she held a razor on his neck. She demanded respect instead of waiting and hoping it would just come. And after only a brief rocky period, Monroe and Helen were always on equal footing, emotionally and in terms of respect.

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  27. Theresa Sand
    Nov 07, 2009 @ 16:24:53

    Jayne,

    Great review! I just finished reading this, and I am a big Hoyt fan, but I was pretty disappointed with this one. I just couldn’t get behind the Reynaud/Beatrice love connection. I felt Reynaud had been through so much, how could he love so quickly (despite Beatrice being a great character)? And the scene where he implied that Beatrice basically wanted it, and she was just to naive to know it, was really bothersome.

    Great to see Vale in this one though. To Seduce a Sinner is definitely my favorite of the series.

    ReplyReply

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