4 and a half silken sheets
When I settle down with an Anna Campbell novel, I know the pages will fly by (often too fast – I can’t force myself to read them slowly), I will be caught up in the characters, thrilled by the story, and will usually shed a few tears too. Tempt The Devil did all that.
For Olivia Raines, London’s most notorious courtesan, and the infamous Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith, falling in love will be the greatest risk of all in this wicked and wild romance from Anna Campbell.
Any man in London would worship her. Yet Olivia is, quite frankly, bored of them all. Despite her many dalliances, she’s never felt true passion, never longed for any lover’s touch…until Julian, London’s most notoriously wanton rake, decided to make her his mistress.
From the moment he first saw her, Julian knew he must possess her. And when he discovers her greatest secret, a scandal that could ruin her reputation and end her career, he knows just the way to use this damaging information to his most delightful advantage. He offers Olivia a deal with the devil: he’ll keep her secret…if she allows him the chance to show her true ecstasy.
But Olivia must be careful, for Julian has a secret of his own: he will not rest until she is completely, shamelessly his.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I’m in the mood for sexy Regency romance, there are plenty of amazing authors to turn to, and in recent months I’ve enjoyed books from Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas and Jess Michaels. My absolute favourite though, and for me the queen of this popular genre, is Anna Campbell. Ever since my attention was snagged by a library copy of Captive of Sin, I’ve been a fan. That being the case. I’ve no idea how I managed to not read this gem earlier. It’s been sitting patiently on my Kindle for over a year. Why? It’s fabulous!
It’s a simple story at heart: a much sought after courtesan takes the dashing Earl of Erith as her protector, and then falls in love with him. He’s a notorious rake, of course, but she manages to tame him.
That’s a bit like describing Pride and Prejudice as an angsty romance. It is so much more.
Where Ms Campbell’s writing stands out, is her avoidance of the light-n-fluffy. She tangles messed up heroes, and gutsy heroines, and makes you walk a very dark edge. Her characters aren’t perfect. They make mistakes, they behave badly, and they have to work very hard for redemption. That’s why they are so fantastic to read.
Anyway, back to this review. Julian, the Earl of Erith, is not a nice man at the start of the book. He abandoned his children when they were very young, and he is ruthless about getting what he wants. He’s had more mistresses than he can remember, and when he decides to take a new courtesan, for an extended stay in London, he wants the best – Olivia Raines. She is nothing like any mistress he’s had before. She seems to care nothing for his wealth, his title, or his importance. She intrigues and excites him in equal measure.
There are reasons why the Earl behaves as he does, and we learn those gradually, as does Olivia. And what starts out as another predictable liaison, suddenly changes. The one thing Olivia cannot do, is fall in love. She cannot allow herself the luxury of loving a man, when she will have to leave him again, and it takes a lot for Erith to creep under her defences.
His lips slanted in the smile that was already so familiar it was part of her. How had he managed this in their few short meetings? Except last night, he’d stayed for hours, until nearly dawn, talking. She’d never before passed a night in a man’s company without lying naked in his arms.
When you learn how and why Olivia became a courtesan, it is heartbreaking, and it was at that point that I started to like Erith, for his reaction.
“Where is your brother now?” His hands formed fists against the seat as he imagined squeezing the life out of the slimy blackguard’s throat.
The battle between them is subtle, with both vying for dominance. I loved their banter, sometimes sharp, sometimes funny. They argue so much! But every time, another chink appears in each one’s armour.
Something that felt perilously like yearning pierced her. For a short space she’d forgotten she was cold, remote Olivia Raines with her available body and her clever hands and her willing mouth. For a short space she’d felt like he spread the whole world at her feet for her delectation.
Dangerous, dangerous illusion.
And yes, I shed a few tears.
His lips tilted into a brief smile that made her ache with longing for what she could never have. She wanted to lie beside him like this forever. She wanted to be his without shame or compulsion. She wanted to be the innocent girl who had grown up on her father’s estate, dreaming of one day marrying a man like the Earl of Erith. She wanted a life different from the one she’d been forced to lead.
None of her wishes could ever come true. It was too late for her.
Erith behaves badly, on more than one occasion. Thankfully, by that point you understand him better, but when he hurts Olivia, you feel it too.
If you want a deep and moving period romance, with well drawn and finely detailed characters, this is for you. It’s hot too. The sex scenes are sizzling and plentiful 🙂
4 and a half silken sheets
4 sexy lips
Plot – great
Characters – deep and dark
Warnings – keep the tissues on standby…
Genre: Historical erotic romance
Published: December 2008; $4.99
Publisher: AvonRomance (an imprint of Harper Collins)
Author website: AnnaCampbell.info