Lord Vandeimen returns home from Waterloo to ruined estates, his family all dead. His attempts to recreate something of his heritage leave him deep in debt, and he is ready to commit suicide when a woman bursts into his room with an extraordinary proposal. Mrs. Maria Celestin, widow of a wealthy foreign merchant, will pay him a small fortune to pretend to be her betrothed husband for six weeks. Van cannot refuse, but he is wary of this outrageous good fortune. He is also intent on getting into the widow’s bed. He doesn’t expect to be dragged back into life, and into love, or into a battle to win the woman who bought him.
Time Frame: Regency England
Heat Level: 3
Review Rating: 5 Stars
Review by Susan:
Typically not many romance authors implement role reversal making the hero into the one in distress and the heroine coming to his rescue, but Jo Beverley does so breaking tradition in The Demon’s Mistress, one of three books from her Company of Rogues series. Furthermore, Beverley’s role reversal is effective in drawing out the hero’s flaws and misgivings without diminishing his alpha male traits to take the initiative, tread where others fear, and hold onto his lady with fierce determination.
George “Demon” Vandeimen has returned from the Peninsula War with a ragged soul having seen horrors that burrowed deep in his memories. Beverley describes his experiences with concise language so readers have a feel for the baggage that burdens Van’s soul without flooding the novel with horror stories. Having his father’s debts adding to his burden Van sees no way out but to kill himself except a rusted flint in his pistol diffuses that plan. Then walks in Mrs. Maria Celestin, a widow and eight years his senior who gives him a solution to his situation while also helping her. For six weeks, they are to act like they are engaged. In return, Maria will pay Van $20,000.
Though the plan is Maria’s idea, Beverley cleverly shows the many ways in which Maria fails to anticipate Van’s actions. He isn’t an ordinary rogue, but rather one whose skills and ingenuity make him into a soul that audiences are relieved Maria saved. Beverley creates a hero and heroine whom audiences will be enrapt by and enjoy their journey into each other’s lives. With an original theme, The Demon’s Mistress shows that role reversals do work in charming audiences into a blazing romance.
The Company of Rogues series continues with stories for Van’s mates Con and Hawk who fought side by side on the battlefields. After the war, they return to shattered homes feeling lost in genteel society and finding themselves groping for security in the dark, working to build a life where they could experience bliss and wipe away the shadows of war. They are historical figures facing modern age struggles.