Zoe Archer starts a new series, The Hellraisers, with her story, Devil's Kiss which introduces the group of five friends who regularly scandalize English Society due to their exploits. Each of them is dissatisfied with his life and wastes time and money in seeking novelty. A visit to a gypsy camp causes the Earl of Whitney, James Sherbourne (Whit) to become fascinated by the mysterious gypsy girl, Zora, even as his friends tempt him away to join them in exploring some mysterious ruin in the vicinity. The discovery of a barrow with a locked chest and a skeleton leads the friends into a pact with a being who apparently will make sure that they will truly deserve their titles as Hellraisers. Zora's fruitless attempt to save them from their folly results in her becoming a bargaining chip for Whit as she is unwillingly forced into his company. The granting of their deepest desires seems to be a perfect reward until Whit starts to realize that he is trapped in a bargain that he wants no part of. His former buddies are disappointed by his seeming defection and he has gained an evil doppleganger who is determined to force him to comply with his bargain. He must win Zora's support and utilize an unusual ally if he is going to free himself from the fate that he is apparently destined to fulfill.
An interesting premise with a nice variety of characters comprising the group. A glimpse into the sometimes warranted distrust of gypsies and their actions even as Whit wars with himself about how to treat Zora. The action is a bit erratic as the framework for the series is being established and the development of the relationship between the main characters isn't quite believable. An adequate light read that hopefully will be followed by a little more in-depth character exposition as the other members of the Hellraisers are spotlighted.
A Handsome Devil
1762. James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger--and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure
and pleasure with his four closest friends.
Which was how Whit found himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey's smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands--watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind...
Zora can't explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can't stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts' desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can't save Whit, she still has to escape him...