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By Elizabeth Hoyt
Released by Hachette on November 1
Review copy provided by publisher
I chose to review this book because I wanted to look at a romance through my IBWB lens, instead of my TGTBTU lens. After all, I do the same thing for a number of young adult books. But I wanted to come at a romance thinking about how I would've liked it in high school, as opposed to now. (I can tell you that in high school my favorite romance was THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME.)
TO DESIRE A DEVIL is the fourth and final book in The Legends of the Four Soldiers series, but it stands fine on its own. Any previous plot threads are introduced well, since both the hero and heroine are unfamiliar with what's been happening. Beatrice knows nothing because she was uninvolved with the French and Indian War; Reynaud knows nothing since he spent the last four years as an Indian prisoner. (It's set in the past, no one's using the term "Native American.")
I believe I can safely say I would've loved this in high school. Beatrice is rather modern: she has her own political views and she doesn't believe losing her virginity means she has to get married. She's willing to act like a meek miss but she's not going to surrender her personality. (There's also an interesting side plot involving her best friend, who separates from her husband due to neglect.) In addition, I would've thought Reynaud attractive, with the tattoos and all.
Okay, here's why I really would've loved it: Elizabeth Hoyt weaves the action of the story together with her own version of the tale where a prisoner is allowed to go free if he can convince someone to take his place of their own will. Hoyt weaves fairy tales into all of her historicals, and you can listen to her talk about this style here. I am a fairy tale junkie and thus love the intertextuality. She does write the tales in her own style, but they aren't used as exact parallels.
The plot of TO DESIRE A DEVIL is fairly simple: Reynaud returns to his home after years of captivity, only to find that his father died and his father's title passed onto the next relative. He can go to parliament to reclaim it, but marrying might give him an air of legitimacy. Marrying the current earl's niece would be even better. But Beatrice wants to marry for love. There is a bit of a complication in that Reynaud was captured during the Spinner's Fall massacre which was caused by a traitor - and that traitor would like to make sure no loose ends remain to reveal his identity.
But simplicity is fine due to Hoyt's exquisite writing. Like historical fiction author Sherry Thomas, she would be a delight to read even without her other skills due to her fine prose. As a bonus, the series epilogue is less treacly than romance series epilogues tend to be. (That doesn't mean there aren't babies. Of course there are babies.) TO DESIRE A DEVIL is ultimately fun and sexy - perfect for a teenager or an adult.