Bodice Ripper Spoiler Alert: I've tried to keep spoilers to a minimum in this review. No major secrets/plot twists are revealed. There are a few minor spoilers ahead...
Part One: Enter the Devil
DEVIL'S MISTRESS is set in Scotland and Colonial America in the late 17th century. The book has an exciting beginning with Brianna on the run from a psychotic witch hunter on the streets of Glasgow. She encounters sea captain Sloan Treveryan in a tavern and pretends to be a prostitute so that she may hide out in his room. Of course, when Sloan discovers that Brianna was a virgin (up until he got her in his bed), he knows something is not right. She confesses that she is the witch being hunted and wants to go to her family in England for help. Sloan knows the witch hunter will easily find her there, so he ends up kidnapping Brianna and holding her captive on his ship.
Sloan is more than a Welsh lord and sea captain. He's also a loyal supporter and informant of sorts for William and Mary of Orange, currently living in Holland. He is one of many who want them to replace Mary's father, James II, as rulers of England, Scotland and Ireland. Sloan intends to leave Brianna with Mary for protection. Brianna will not hear of it, and escapes Sloan's ship only to be captured and nearly killed by the witch hunter. Sloan saves her again, and though the two form a passionate relationship, he refuses to marry her. Brianna is devastated and escapes from him again, this time running away to the Colonies with her cousin.
Part Two: The Devil in Salem
Of all the towns in the Colonies, Brianna chooses the worst one to settle in for a woman once accused of witchcraft. Salem. When the hysteria of the witch trials begins, Brianna's cousin urges her to keep quiet and hope that they avoid attention. But, it's only a matter of time before both Brianna and her cousin are arrested on false charges. The situation seems hopeless until Sloan comes looking for Brianna in Salem...
My thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book. I've always had a morbid fascination with the Salem Witch Trials, and I thought that the author captured the craziness and cruelty of that time perfectly. The plot was suspenseful and fast-paced. There were a couple of intriguing plot twists along the way to keep me engaged.
My main complaint was Brianna and Sloan's very tense relationship for most of the book. There was plenty of passionate pledges of love, and then lots of bickering between them. Most of the blame falls on Brianna. Her behavior was so ridiculous and dramatic at times. Sloan wanted to protect her and be with her, he just couldn't marry her. Brianna's solution was to keep running away (even though she loved him) and nearly getting herself killed. I wanted to smack her myself a few times. In my opinion, Sloan was no "devil." He was a good guy who got a raw deal in life that was out of his control.
Though DEVIL'S MISTRESS did not fit the typical "historical romance" formula, it was an enjoyable story worth reading. It would definitely appeal to fans of old-school romances.
Bodice Ripper Elements: Kidnapping/forced seduction of the heroine; heroine hit/slapped a few times.
Rating: 3.5 Bodices
This post is part of the Bodice Ripper Revival, a new monthly event here on my blog and at Tanya's blog, Among the Muses!
For a chance to win a copy of either Devil's Mistress or the book Tanya reviews on Sunday, please leave a comment with your e-mail address on this or both posts. If you leave a comment on both reviews, you will get two entries!
The winner's choice of book will be shipped from The Book Depository, so the contest is open internationally. (Winner will receive the most recent edition of the book.) The contest is open until Monday, 8/1/2011, at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!