Friday, October 21, 2016

Lorraine Heath - Between the Devil and Desire

The ladies of the ton won't stop whispering about deliciously wicked Jack Dodger—once a thieving street urchin, now the wealthy owner of London's most exclusive gentleman's club. There's no pleasure he hasn't enjoyed, no debauchery the handsome scoundrel won't provide for the lords who flock to his house of carnal intrigue.
Olivia, Duchess of Lovingdon, would never associate with such a rogue. So when Jack is named sole heir to the duke's personal possessions, the beautiful, well-bred lady is outraged. Now, Olivia is forced to share her beloved home with this despicable man.
But Olivia's icy disdain is no match for Jack's dangerous charm. His touch awakens desire. His kiss demands surrender. She will struggle to bar Jack from her heart...but her body, coveting divine release, will not let her bar him from her bed.

Comment: After having read and liked the first book in this Scoundrels of St James series, of course I would have to keep reading. This month I added this title to my list in hopes of keeping up with the adventures of the group of friends we met in book #1.

In this story we follow Jack Dodger, the risk taker of the group and the one the ones looked up to in trouble, not because Jack had the means to help them but because he would invent one way to make it so. But beneath Jack's appearance of nonchalance and indifference, he is very much attentive to his surroundings and with an anonymous helper, he managed to have his own business and became able to help many unfortunate ones like he and his friends used to be.
What Jack didn't expect was to be given the task to be guardian to a little boy, the son of a duke he was never friends with and he has no idea why he was chosen, even more so when the young widow and the boy's mother also has no clue about her late husband's idea. At first Jack only wants to provoke her out of her superior ways but getting to know her proves to be more challenging to his state of mind than what he ever imagined possible...

Months after reading the first book in the series I confess I didn't remember certain things but one thing is certain, the main ideas come to you because the author has inserted the needed information with precise splashes of knowledge without making it look like an info dump on readers. I no longer remembered certain things but I managed to have a global idea again without having to consult the first book. This is not easy to accomplish, so great work, author.

This story follows the first one pretty much right after and now we have Jack Dodger's tale. He seemed quite obnoxious and bent on his ways in book #1, in fact I think he is clearly shown in a not so positive light on purpose but now that we get to know him, his past, his fears and his hidden good guy personality, I think he is more than an worthy hero. I liked getting to know him better and his personality is quite tempered because he isn't perfect, he still acts rather sneaky at times but deep down he is as good any other hero.

The heroine, Olivia, seems one thing at first but she almost blooms from the moment she meets Jack and is more or less forced to interact with him. Se seems a bit too unmovable at first and that makes her hard to be likable but with time I think the author developed her personality well and one things is certain, she is a good, dedicated mother, even if slightly over the top here and there. But she had good reasons. 
I liked Olivia and Jack together, especially because it wasn't immediate and it wasn't done just because the story had to have a romance. Their relationship was believable and well paced.

The plot is interesting, I liked the slow development of everything...the bad guy/villain here is creepy, obviously that is on purpose but there is a certain lack of balance in the pace here. We barely have clues about why him and why like that and in the end all is found rather quickly. I don't mean to say we should have known about him and his motives sooner nor do I think more details were necessary, but some changes would have make him better matched with the rest of the plot moves.

There are some surprises that I didn't see coming. Ok, some were rather obvious, but I still don't think it had to be with those explanations. I get that the impact was much better that way but it still feels a bit too obvious at times and honestly, some explanations were avoidable, I mean, the story would have been perfect enough without the extra about Jack's parents identities, for instance.
I liked the secondary characters appearances, especially the couple from book #1 and the other friends, I now can't wait to have Franny's story.

Many readers prefer the author's western romances but I'm very fond of these regency stories as well and I'm looking for to read more.
Jack and Olivia ended up being a good couple and I wanted to keep reading all the time, so... that is a positive for me.
Grade: 8/10

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