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Friday, November 18, 2011

Silver-Tongued Devil by Jennifer Blake

Silver-Tongued Devil by Jennifer Blake
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length(310 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Angelica Carew awakens after a boating accident to find herself married to her rescuer. Renold Harden is the stepson of the man who lost his Louisiana plantation to her gambler father and is bent on revenge. Angelica begins as a pawn in Renold's vengeful plans, until he discovers her hidden depths...

Along the Mississippi, in Louisiana and New Orleans in the late nineteenth century, life was not for the faint hearted. The thin veneer of society’s niceties cracks easily in the damp, steamy climate and the rough, cruel, greedy traits of humanity show through. Every one of the seven cardinal sins seems to thrive in the elite of society and in the most base of humanity.

Angelica Carew becomes a pawn in a revenge plot—a plot of which she has no knowledge.

Revenge by using an innocent person to get to his target sets Renold Harden’s life on a new course that challenges his alpha male determination as he pits his wits against the naïve but complex Angelica.

From past experiences, Renold does not trust the word or feelings of women—not even his mother’s. His intention is to degrade and make Angelica miserable to get back at her father. However, as the days go by, Angelica’s innate intelligence, her stern upbringing, common sense, intuition, and her ability to see more than what appears on the surface makes her an enigma to Renold. He finds himself wanting to make love to her and bring her to know all the passions and pleasures of man and woman together. He wants to consummate their marriage, Most of all he wants her love. Yet, he forges on toward his goal knowing that it is inevitable that she will come to hate him.

Angelica, reared by her spinster Aunt Harriet who believes in male authority and prerogative, has never been allowed to make decisions. When she regains consciousness after the steamboat explosion and believes her father and fiancé have been killed, she is at variance with what she should do. She is in the care of Renold who says they are married because that was the only way he could see to her care after the accident. She doesn’t trust him, but she admits to herself that he sends “her emotions swooping like a backyard swing”. Even though she knows he is arrogant and manipulative, Angelica cannot dismiss his gentle care, his introducing her protectively to the wonders of New Orleans and its French Quarter, his installation of a garden to please her and so many other things.

The secondary characters keep the undercurrents treacherous for the two main characters. Renold’s best friend, Michael Farness, stirs a jealousy when he champions Angelica’s cause. Clotilde, Renold’s former mistress, stirs up as much animosity as she can, while Renold’s enemies along with robbers and assassins make life perilous. Of course, his mother and half-sister add to the unease.

Jennifer Blake’s special way of bringing characters to life emotionally and physically makes the reader feel as if she is sharing the upheavals, dangers, and euphoric experiences with the hero and heroine. The vivid images she creates assail the senses. The steamboat is pregnant with sights, scents, smells, tastes, feel, and sounds as are the varied parts of New Orleans, and the hundred-year-old, well-tended, and beloved Bonheur plantation is replete with the best of them all.

Ms. Blake does a masterful job of weaving in conditions, mores, and perils of the late nineteenth century Louisiana; for example, the barrel houses, lawlessness, Mardi gras, social issues, and much more. But above all she weaves the characters’ lives together to create a memorable love story that sprouts from an alienating event to grow and bloom to a thing of beauty. The love scenes, like love on a hot afternoon, are breathtaking.

Silver-Tongued Devil, like other Jennifer Blake novels, is a keeper to enjoy reading more than once.

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