THE BEAUTYPublisher: Dorchester Publishing
In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to keep her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde.
THE BLACK KNIGHT
He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now: finding a spy for King Henry? sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?
Genre: Medieval Historical Romance
Single Title/Series: THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS is a single title novel.
Cover Thoughts: I like it. I think its very beautiful. The title text is especially gorgeous and I'm lovin' the coral red color. However, the female cover model doesn't resonate with my mental image of Alienore. Her dark coloring doesn't coincide at all with Alienore's wheat gold hair or pale freckled skin. I am feelin' the male model though. Its Nathan, right Barbara? :)
Why I Read It: I received a Review Galley from the Publisher.
Set in twelfth century England, Lady Alienore of Lyonstone teeters on the edge of treason while serving the gilded caged Queen of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine. As the queen's privy chancellor, Alienore manages all of Eleanor's personal and royal correspondence while also acting as the queen's connection to the outside world. Loyal to her marrow, Alienore strives to emulate her queen and godmother, doing her best to shackle her unruly and passionate nature beneath a cloak of pride and virtuosity.
A dangerous time to be at court, Alienore serves her queen honorably and diligently hoping that her loyalty will reward her. Having fled to the queen after her crusader brother returned to Lyonstone proclaiming she's to wed the aged drunkard Duc d'Ormande, Alienore now beseeches her beloved godmother and sovereign to reinstate the lands bequeathed to her by her dead father, severe the offensive marriage proposal, and allow Alienore her rightful freedom. Eleanor champions her cause, that is until a dark knight charges into Alienore's life setting her on course to ruination and an uphill battle toward redemption.
The Raven, a knight of disreputable origins, descends upon Eleanor's court at the most pivotal point in the queen's game. Known as the Devil of Damascus, the Raven is a mystery. Is he King Henry's man sent to spy on his treacherous wife or is the devil there to collect the rogue daughter of Lyonstone and deliver her to her wedding? Whatever his orders, Alienore strives to maintain distance against the vocally scarred knight whose raspy voice sends heated darts of passion piercing through her cold armor, igniting a flame of desire that threatens to become an inferno.
The Raven knows that his heart's in jeopardy the moment he lays eyes on Alienore. Unfashionably tall with rippling wheat gold hair and piercing gray eyes, the woman is a warrior proven by her sheathed sword and wolf companion trotting protectively at her heels. Her intelligence radiates as does her sense of honor and pride. Loath to break Alienore's spirit, the Raven does what he can to gently manipulate her toward his own goals, informing her that the queen and therefore she is on a treasonous path. But he underestimates Alienore's loyalty and must resort to ruination to protect Alienore from the hangman's noose. Having yet to reveal his true identity, the Raven hates the betrayal he's made against Alienore but there are those who will starve if he doesn't reach his aims and secure the Lyonstone heiress as his bride. But there are others in the bid for Alienore's fortune including Alienore herself and the Raven soon finds himself in fear of becoming an honorable man.
A bit high strung, Alienore of Lyonstone is a force to be reckoned with. Unsuitable for court life with her direct tongue and lithe warrior body that matches her deadly skill, one would be fool hardy to attack those she loves. But her beauty and her vastly known virtuosity makes her a luscious challenge that many a man can't refuse. However, Alienore wants no man or passion for both ruined her mother. Instead she shields herself with her virginity and piousness, dousing the flames of those men foolish enough to proposition her. But the Raven is one man that Alienore can't ignore or discourage. His battle scarred body and voice brings to height a sensual awareness she never knew she possessed. But betrayal doges the heels of her wounded knight and Alienore puts forth the strength of her pride and her determination to win back her rightful inheritance and shun her heart from the Raven's skillful seduction. Yet it's Alienore's very pride that puts her in jeopardy of losing the one man that could set her free within the bonds of love.
Scarred both physically and mentally, the Raven, his goals, and his desperation are slow to be revealed. Much like Alienore and her virtuous shield, the Raven hides his true self allowing the character damaging rumors of his past to shield him from having to face his own inner pain. He's a devil through and through, at least that's what he's bound and determined to convince Alienore of while also striving to win her trust and her hand. The Raven needs Alienore but it's not known how much until he's faced with his warrior woman's unguarded heart and her determination to heal his own heart which is dying beneath the weight of his guilt and his past.
My Final Thoughts:
THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS boasts a twisted maze of a plot featuring cunning royals for road blocks and two vivacious lead characters as the scrambling mice racing betwixt the dangerous switchbacks toward an intertwined fate. Alienore reminded me much of a warrior goddess, intelligent, virtuous and strong. She's also gifted with the loyalty and friendship of a powerfully protective wolf and the strength of a sword hand deftly trained for combat. However, she's thankfully brought down to the level of us mortals with her faltering naivete and blistering pride both of which serve to hinder and protect her. And while Alienore's leashed passion is skillfully contained, it takes one wounded but no less determined knight to crash through the barriers of her control. In complete opposition to Alienore's open book emotions, the Raven is every bit the dark and devilish mystery his reputation herald's him to be. He's tortured for sure but his motives are cloaked in masterful darkness eluding the reader time and again. He's a delightful surprise, one that will have you guessing right up until the very end.
Navarre has proven herself a masterful storyteller with THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS. This is no easy plot to navigate as its thickly layered with the opposing forces of deceitful betrayal and virtuous loyalty. Lush with historical fact, Navarre will and does successfully journey the reader to another time and place where no aspect of life is left veiled or beautified. Undoubtedly, you will feel the ebb and flow of this tide of time. In addition, not a single plot arc is left unresolved much to the praising astonishment of this skilled reader's eye. This is an author that will have you guessing endlessly and gasping with surprise at each cleverly unveiled truth. Because of this, I've done my best to keep this review as vague as possible though I've seen other, far more revealing reviews which is unfortunate because the twists are so to be savored.
For historical romance readers looking to venture beyond the time of the silver-tongued Regency and Victorian ton, get ready to embark on a whirlwind ride through the Medieval times and the lush political intrigue soaking its heart. A spellbinding romance, THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS will have you breathlessly clinging to the edge of your seat as the combustible plot races to the finish line where the ultimate betrayal may or may not come to fruition. Enjoy!