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.
It's always difficult to review a novel that while entertaining, fell flat and to make matters more frustrating, I can't exactly pinpoint the reason why. The facts are that I enjoyed Anna Campbell's 'Tempt the Devil'. I liked her characters and sympathized with their plight. The writing was lovely and embodied a rich and flowing plot filled to the brim with emotional depth. But despite all the good qualities, my love and connection to the novel and it's characters was dim at best with the occasional flare of interest.
'Tempt the Devil' is very character focused novel with ninety-eight percent of the scenes being dedicated exclusively to the hero and heroine together. There are no outside suspense plots to distract you and no evil villains except the bitter thoughts and horrid pasts of the two main characters. Both the notorious womanizer Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith, and the flaming jewel of a courtesan, Olivia Raines, contain dead wastelands for souls and fortified walls about their hearts that are brutal in their resistance. They're jaded and cynical creatures that live only in the now for the past is too painful for either to revisit yet it's the past that's irrevocably shaped them into who they are in their present.
Erith is an arrogant, supremely dominant and cold hearted man when he sets his sights on the lovely Olivia Raines and vows to possess her. It's this very coldness that Olivia sees and is attracted to for it's obvious that the earl is lacking a soul which compliments her soulless existence all too well. Yet it becomes shockingly clear that she's about to receive more than she bargained for with the Earl of Erith.
For fifteen years, Olivia Raines has been London's most alluring and coveted courtesan. Every lover that she's taken has become embarrassingly enamored by her and when Erith returns from Vienna, he knows instantly that she's what he wants during his brief stay in London for his daughter's wedding. Little does he know that Olivia's cool gaze and self-conscience movements are armor for her wounded soul. While she may have survived the atrocities of her past that led her to the present, she's never lived. The dreams of a young and privileged girl were crushed to oblivion so long ago and so horribly that all she has left - all she clings to - is her courtesan act. But she's tired of the old song and dance. Tired of the male sex which she whole-heartily despises. The Earl of Erith will be her last lover. Her reign as London's most sought after courtesan has come to an end.
While Olivia hides beneath her courtesan mask, Erith's arrogance shields a broken heart. He's a man that's loved passionately and lost. While he married young it was to the love of his life. Joanna was everything to him. But four blissful years and two gorgeous children did nothing to protect Joanna from sudden death leaving Erith's life in ruins. Unable to stand even the sight of his own children, Erith fled England after installing his son and daughter with his sister. For over a decade he stayed away only now returning for his daughter's wedding and more importantly to right the horrible wrong he did when he abandoned his family.
When Erith and Olivia come together it's like the perfect storm. They each battle mercilessly for dominance and control but the more they fight, the more they each crack through the other's defenses. Olivia's unwanted revealing of her body's non response to Erith drives him mad with challenge. He strips free her lies with unrelenting persistence thus revealing the troubled soul beneath. His rampant jealousy has him following her when she leaves and thus uncovering another faucet of her life, one that she'll do anything to protect. And while all these unveiling's could mean Olivia's downfall, Erith would never tell a soul about his discoveries for his own walls are crumbling.
When Olivia witnesses the vast depth of Erith's capability to love, she knows that she's judged him terribly wrong. While she initially thought him cold and heartless, those traits were merely an illusion and she soon finds herself coveting his love for herself. But it's a rule that's fatal to ones heart if broken: A courtesan must never fall in love.
Erith knows that Olivia returns the passionate love that he has for her and he has every intention of keeping her forever. He never in all his life thought he could love someone again but Olivia has shined brilliant light on all corners of his starving soul. During his determination to make Olivia feel pleasure, to live her life with truth, she inadvertently did the same for him. Where once they were both barren, they're now swept away on a ship of overwhelming but wonderful emotions.
But of course nothing can ever be easy. At the very peak of their happiness, a crushing blow brings them both crashing back to shore. Erith, thinking irrationally, accuses Olivia of a wrong she didn't commit. Hateful words are thrown and for the first time in weeks Olivia has felt like Erith's whore, not his beloved. The truth of their situation comes rearing to the forefront and Olivia's wary heart seizes the opportunity to turn away from her dream, from happiness for that dream of happiness can never be in reality.
Erith, desperate to make amends and reclaim the woman that has brought him to his knees, turns London upside down searching for Olivia. The fact that the gossip mills are churning over his very obvious desperation for his mistress does little to stop him from reaching his goal. Love has made him a fool but it's the very least of his worries. When Erith does find Olivia, she's come to a decision: Marry her or say good-bye forever.
As mentioned above, I did enjoy Anna Campbell's 'Tempt the Devil'. It was a good read but not a great read. I felt the situations were a bit contrived to move the story along and that those contrivances caused Erith to step out of character. While he exhibited anger, raging passion and desperate need throughout the novel, I never thought he would stoop to scathing remarks that are thrown towards the woman he claims to love. Conversely, I thought that Olivia's response was spot on and I fumed with her over Erith's accusations. Her heart had been dead for so long that any new life would be tenuous at best and her reactions were in line with her character. And while I rooted for her in this case, I grew contempt for her after her issued ultimatum.
Campbell makes it very clear that for a member of the peerage to marry his courtesan is to bring upon social suicide for not only him but for his family as well. While she has had previous characters marry with similar situations, none had committed the already selfish atrocities that Erith had to his own children. To marry a courtesan would only shine more light on his selfishness. For Olivia to expect him to miraculously make her dream a possibility was cruel and unjust and Erith points out as much. But she leaves him no choice. He must determine what's more important, her or the children he wronged and that didn't sit well with me.
I will say though that Campbell has a way of bringing rich vitality to her characters making them practically leap off the page. I think my discontent stemmed more from her characters actions rather than their hearts. Their hearts, I loved.
Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell
Releases October 27, 2009
He pledged his honor to keep her safe...
Returning home to Cornwall after unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger, and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He's dismayed to discover that she's none other than Lady Charis Weston, England's wealthiest heiress-and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.
She promised to show him how to love - and desire - again...
Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She's grateful for his help, but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience-especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control-and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin
Read an Excerpt HERE!