I have been a big fan of Elizabeth Hoyt since she burst on the scene in 2006 with The Raven Prince. While all her books are very enjoyable, some stand out more than others. To Desire a Devil is the final book in The Legend of Four Soldiers series.
Reynaud St. Aubyn was a ghost, a man seven years dead in the Colonies, when he burst into the parlor of his father’s house. After suffering all those years at the hands of his Indian captors, he has returned to England to regain all that he has lost. The man in possession of Reynaud’s title, his homes, and his monies is the uncle of Beatrice Corning. The sweet girl has served as her uncle’s hostess and has quietly admired the portrait of a young, idealistic Reynaud. But the man who bursts into their party is a far cry from the innocent boy in the picture. Bird tattoos adorn his face, an earring in one ear, hair past his shoulders and a questionable grasp of reality; he promptly passes out in Beatrice’s lap. Beatrice convinces her uncle to allow Reynaud to stay in the house and recover as it would look better on them if the title reverts back to him. Their mutual attraction is undeniable as they spend time together. Unfortunately, he proposes marriage to her in order to quell the rumors that he is quite mad from his ordeal. He doesn’t even hide that from her. Will their relationship survive his relentless pursuit of his title and finding the traitor of the Regiment?
I was quite anxious to get my hands on this book. I made the mistake of reading the first chapter of To Desire a Devil in the back of To Beguile a Beast and it tortured me! I couldn’t wait to read about Reynaud and Beatrice. I was quite pleased with the book overall. The relationship between the two lovers is quite intense and the love scenes are quite decadent. Once Reynaud and Beatrice are married, as with the other books in this series, is where the relationship deepens. Slowly, Reynaud reveals the suffering that he faced at the hands of the Indians. The brutality and realism of what he faced as well as the aftermath of PTSD are very well written. It is as we discover the identity of the traitor and the final confrontation occurs that the book could have been so much more satisfying. After searching for the man who caused the misery and death of so many individuals, his identity is more of a let down than an “a-ha” moment. Reynaud’s realization of how he really feels for Beatrice also seemed rushed and disconnected.
I did enjoy the side story of Lottie and Nate, a married couple experiencing some discord. I do feel, however, like this thread was tied up a little too abruptly and without a resolution. Ms. Hoyt excels at crafting characters that you instantly care about. Both the hero and the heroine are equally strong and unique. Characters from the previous books make a few appearances but they never deflect attention from the main characters. I don’t read historicals as a rule anymore, but Ms. Hoyt is still on my auto-buy list. I enjoyed this book, flying through it in about a day. Ms. Hoyt delivers an engaging, emotional story and I can’t wait to see what comes next. I am not reading the excerpt at the end anymore; I just can’t stand the wait!
NOTHING IS MORE INTOXICATING-
Reynaud St. Aubyn has spent the last seven years in hellish captivity. Now half mad with fever he bursts into his ancestral home and demands his due. Can this wild-looking man truly be the last earl's heir, thought murdered by Indians years ago?
Beatrice Corning, the niece of the present earl, is a proper English miss. But she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in the portrait in her uncle's home. Suddenly, that very man is here, in the flesh-and luring her into his bed.
THAN SURRENDERING TO A DEVIL.
Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud's savagery to the noble man inside. For his part, Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as he is suspicious of her loyalty to her uncle. But can Beatrice's love tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title-even if it means sacrificing her innocence?