Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from the war with the colonies a shambles of a man. Now free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by irrational fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.
Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, Salime fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from the man who once saved her life, Salime accepts a proposition to repay her debt to him by becoming a companion to his war-scarred friend.
Circumstance brings these two damaged souls together; but fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.
Publisher and Review date: Vane Publishing LLC, January 2014
Time and setting: Georgian era London, England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat level: 2.5
Reviewer rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
This is the ninth novella in the consistently entertaining Georgian era Ludovic “Devil” DeVere series by Victoria Vane. It can be read as a standalone but is much more enjoyable and meaningful if you’re familiar with the previous books in the series.
I really liked Simon Singleton, known as “Sin” by his two best friends, DeVere and Ned. Emotionally and physically scarred by his horrible experiences as a prisoner of war in the Colonies, he returned to England a broken man. He can no longer concentrate enough to focus on his love of poetry writing and, once a jovial and enthusiastic ladies’ man, he finds it difficult to be touched.
The exotic and mysterious Salime is a survivor of abuse and is also physically scarred. Saved by Ludovic “Devil” DeVere when she was a young girl, she is eternally devoted to him. He had helped her begin a new life in England before and, after her latest humiliating experience in the King’s Place brothel, helps her once again while also assisting his friend to heal. He brings Simon and Salime together; she helps Sin overcome his wartime nightmares and he turns out to be the sincere and very romantic man she had always been seeking.
Though not the main love story in the series – nor my favorite, which was Diana and DeVere’s story – Simon and Salime’s love story was very tenderly portrayed, with infinite patience and perseverance on Salime’s side, remorse and forgiveness on Simon’s. Their time together in DeVere’s London townhouse was sweet and loving. I did find it a little surprising how quickly Simon seemed to overcome his aversion to touch but, in a novella, there isn’t much time to get to the happy ending. The conversations between the couple were beautifully crafted and realistically conveyed as they came to know each other.
The steadfast friendship between DeVere, Ned, and Simon shines through once again, as it has throughout the entire series with their quick and sometimes raunchy (and hilarious) repartee; Ned and DeVere never gave up on their good friend and worked to help him recover from his nightmarish experiences.
One of the best things about this book (and, indeed, the entire series) is its sense of place and time in history. There were wonderfully detailed descriptions of fashions and of the King’s Place brothel. As always, Ms Vane provides references for her works that are just as interesting and fun to read as the stories themselves, something this librarian just loves.
I cannot say enough good things about this series. It has everything: friendship, sexy romance, emotion, laugh out loud humor, fascinating history, excitement and adventure. The language and writing are lively, spirited, and poignant. It’s also unique that all the books in the series are novellas so they are quick and delightful reads guaranteed to make you smile.
Jewel of the East is another winning installment in a great series. I am very happy to hear that Victoria Vane has promised that there are even more stories to come.