To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt
Lady Beatrice Corning is the niece of the current Earl of Blanchard, who gained the title five years ago when the previous earl died with no living heirs. Things get a little crazy when Reynaud St. Aubyn, the son of the late earl, shows up unannounced after seven years of being presumed dead. His entrance is startling and paves the way for those who want the current Earl to remain in his seat to claim that Reynaud is incapable of holding the position. The only one in the Blanchard household who truly understands Reynaud is Beatrice and she finds herself drawn to this dark and angry man who is so different from the young man in the portrait over the mantle whom she has admired for so many years. Beatrice and her friends have been hard at work trying to get a bill through Parliament that would provide pensions to former soldiers in the army and Beatrice's Uncle Reggie is part of the conservative Tory party that plans to vote down this plan. Beatrice hopes that if/when Reynaud gains back his title he will join the struggle to provide a living for the returned heroes, but it do not seem likely that this will happen. Despite Beatrice's attempts to win him, Reynaud remains selfish and unconcerned with others, thinking only of gaining back his title.
Even while he is drawn to this perfect example of English womanhood Reynaud is suspicious that Beatrice's loyalties lie more with her uncle, the pretender to the earldom. This does not stop Reynaud from regarding Beatrice as his and he wastes no time in staking his claim and making it well known that Beatrice belongs to him. Beatrice is still worried that Reynaud will never be able to forget his harrowing past as an Indian captive or be able to open his heart to loving feelings again, but that does not stop her from falling in love with him. Even after the wedding has been finalized Beatrice cannot let go of her fears especially when it comes to her uncle and she worries that Reynaud will throw him out and he will vote against the pension bill. Finally crunch time arrives, both for Reynaud and for the bill and those in power fight to claim that Reynaud is mad and that the bill is a waste of the crown's money. Beatrice can only wait and hope that everything works out for the best and that Reynaud finally acts like the man she has always known he can be.
I have been looking forward to this book for what feels like forever and had incredibly high hopes as I was judging Hoyt on "To Seduce a Sinner" and "To Beguile a Beast" which were both phenomenal in every aspect and remain two of my all time favorites. I realize that my expectations were probably too high as this book was very disappointing while at the same time I know that it actually wasn't a bad book. I can't put into words exactly what I was expecting but this book definitely did not live up to those expectations. I didn't like either Beatrice or Reynaud all that much except when it came to their actions regarding the Veterans Bill as neither was exactly likable. Renyaud was a bit of a moron to be honest- he was willing to marry to prove that he was sane, but he wasn't willing to remove his earring or cover up his tattoos with some makeup. (Reynaud has 3 birds tattooed around his right eye- which do NOT show up in the stepback picture. Although the stepback is amazingly hot.) The best scene he had- the only reason I don't completely write him off- was his speech about the bill and his amazing and heroic actions at the very end.
Beatrice is incredibly lustful for Reynaud and there are many times in the book when necessary arguments/ discussions between them are waylaid by his seduction and it got irritating after a little while as it was so obvious and I wanted Beatrice to be smarter than that. There were quite a few steamy scenes (although very little build up) but these were also quite disappointing. Hoyt is a master at super HOT scenes, but this book just fell flat- still more steamy than many romances writers, but once again did not live up to expectations. My favorite parts of the book revolved around other characters. Vale and Lady Vale were brought back once again although I was surprised we did not see much of the new Lady Munroe. Uncle Reggie was written superbly as the well meaning, slightly confused, but really very loving and lovable despite his faults. Especially wonderful to read was the story of Beatrice's friend Lottie who leaves her husband because she believes he treats her like she is just another possession. I found it sad that I wanted to read mroe about them than I did about Beatrice and Reynaud.
Rating: Not at all a bad book, but I can not get over my disappointment. If I hadn't read her other entries in the series I might not notice, but it is hard to go from "Seduce" to "Sinner." Undoubtedly deserves 3 but I have to give it a 2.