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 is how Whit finds 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…
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have read other books in the past that have used the idea of a person or several people making a bargain with evil to satisfy their short term desires. What I find interesting about that trope is the combination of what the desire was, who inspires or guides them towards redemption, and the path they take. I had read and enjoyed several of Ms Archer’s previous works so I was really curious about how she would address those three areas.
Devil’s Kiss, the first of Ms Archer’s new The Hellraisers series, introduced me to five rather dissolute friends who make a habit of trying to find new entertainment. Never is this entertainment in the form of anything good or wholesome but usually involving what could be considered a sin. What I found fascinating about the five is that each of them was primarily interested in a particular method of entertainment. As a result initially they appeared to be bound together more by boredom then by common interests.
I really enjoyed the incarnation of evil that Ms Archer created. He didn’t follow many of the common stereotypes like requiring a contract signed in blood, worship or rituals just something that belonged to them. He was a quite sinister evil. He used several different tactics to attempt to keep Whit either through fear or by fulfilling his desire. The reader knows that Whit and his friends have just done something rather ill-advised so aatching Whit’s realization of what he got himself into, who, and what he was against was very entertaining. Despite his bargain Whit was not completely lost from the beginning just mostly lost.
Zora was a treat as well. I really liked how Ms Archer was able to portray a Romani girl who didn’t quite agree with all the traditions but still valued her family and her freedom. While she matured, her actions throughout the book stayed true to what we saw in the beginning. I think my favorite scene with her was when she took enjoyment in the fact that Whit’s servants thought she was a ghost. She was also determined that she would do whatever it took to try to save the goodness and spirit she initially saw in Whit.
I think Ms Archer used the interplay between the five friends to really establish exactly how evil the villain was along with setting up future books. Whit’s journey was hard enough but I think she is going to put the other four (hopefully) through all sorts of misery before they reach their redemption. She did give a glimmer of hope for Whit’s closest friend but it was such a slight glimmer. I am looking forward seeing their journeys.
I give Devil’s Kiss a B+
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