Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn.
For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.
These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…
Holding up her hand, she pulled the horse to a stop. Dorian slowed, watched, and waited.
Lillian touched her nose, alerting him to the scent of wood burning. The wind came out of the northeast. The almost full moon lit the night well enough. They dismounted, and tied the horses to a low bit of brush along the rocky pass.
Spending the bulk of his time with the hunters behind a desk, he willingly took a step back and allowed Lillian to take the lead. She was far more experienced in the field. The fact that she was a woman meant nothing in The Company.
He wished he was as unaffected by her feminine allure.
To his astonishment, she pulled a string at her waist, which lifted her skirts, and she tucked them into some kind of belt hidden at her hips. Above her high leather boots, he glimpsed her creamy thighs. His gaze dropped to her curvy flesh and an array of weapons cleverly stored insideher skirts instead of focusing on the danger ahead. He met her gaze.
“Try to stay alive, Dorian. Do not get distracted.”
He looked her up and down one more time. “You ask the impossible, Lilly.”
The wicked look she gave him was almost as enticing as the curve of her leg. She turned and climbed up the rock-strewn hill to the right. He followed, making an effort not to admire her bare legs or the throwing knives strapped around her right thigh. When they reached the precipice, flames blazed as high as ten feet in the center of a clearing. Two demons fed the fire, one a small trebox with scaly dark skin and the other a larger, dumber malleus covered in slime. To the far left of the fire, three children huddled together. The smallest girl wept loudly while the other two tried to comfort her.
Alive! A surge of elation followed by a wave of fear assaulted him. Could he and Lillian keep those children alive?
The malleus stood as tall as the flames and sang in a low grating tone. Firelight reflected off its slimy skin as it tore a year old tree from the ground, roots and all. As if it were a twig, the malleus tossed it on the fire. Flames roared higher and his voice grew louder. Dorian knew nothing of the demon language, but the eerie cadence churned his guts.
The trebox slunk around the fire. He used two hands on a sword, carving symbols in the hard ground. This trebox had shed his human clothes, exposing his hunched back and visible ribcage.
A recent report had crossed his desk depicting a similar scene in England. When they completed drawing the runes, the innocents would be sacrificed. “They mean to open a gate. We only have until the song ends.”
Lillian’s eyes widened. She reached into the folds of her underskirt and released a small crossbow from its holster, chocked an arrow, and took aim. “We will need to move fast.”
She let the arrow fly.
It pierced the malleus demon’s left eye, silenced the song mid-word, and dropped the enormous monster to the ground before he even had time to roar.
The trebox screamed in the language only demons understood. He took up the song his comrade had been chanting and wrote faster in the dirt.
Dorian pulled one throwing knife from the belt strapped around Lillian’s smooth skin. He jumped over the hill and ran down, dagger raised in his left hand.
The trebox rushed at him with its eyes focused on the long knife.
When he was within range, he let the smaller blade fly.
It buried deep in the greenish creature’s throat. He crumpled with a whine.
Lillian ran behind him down the hill.
All three children screamed and cried.
She charged past them and kicked dirt on the fire.
“What are you doing?”
“I think he might have gotten the incantation finished. Look at the way the smoke curls in on itself. Evil will find a way in even without the sacrifice. Once opened, I don’t know how to close a gate.”
It was unnatural the way the smoke did not move with the breeze. The ground rumbled. Dorian kicked dirt on the fire and rubbed out the carved runes from the ground.
Publisher and Release Date: Lyrical, 7 July 2015
Time and Setting: Scotland (mostly Edinburgh), early 19th Century
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Heat level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Claudia
Lillian Dellacourt is the most feared and lethal hunter in The Company, an organisation dedicated to hunting and destroying demons. When she decides to pursue an enquiry of her own, she is ordered not to leave the castle without being asigned a new partner, but she ignores that instruction and heads off to Edinburgh anyway.
Dorian Lambert is the right-hand-man of the leader of The Company and is ordered to follow Lillian and to keep track of her. Soon the sparks between them are burning hot but demons are appearing all over Edinburgh and wooing the lady who has stolen his heart is no easy feat – especially as Lillian has a tongue as sharp as her swords and no reason to trust Dorian’s intentions.
This is the second book in Ms Fenichel’s Demon Hunters series and although it is possible to read it as a stand-alone there are some references and consequences from the events of the first book, which are a little confusing at the beginning. Nevertheless the story and the plot are well thought-out and the characters are well-drawn, and it is interesting to plunge into the story and find out how the central relationship will work out and if Lillian and Dorian will be able to learn to trust each other well enough to work together to save the day.
Lillian is an interesting character who was brought up under difficult circumstances and whose sense of self-esteem is largely connected to her work as a Hunter. But her “kick-ass” exterior hides a vulnerable woman who is unsure of herself in other situations. I really liked that she is able to defend herself and has a quick wit and a very strong empathy for others. She always places others above herself and is dedicated to her mission, which means that she has to make some very difficult decisions.
Dorian, on the other hand, is used to seeing battle through the eyes of an observer and therefore has no similar issues when it comes to setting the aims of The Company above everything else. But this ends with his connection to Lillian. His character is dependable and his love for Lillian is a steady force with which he supports her. I liked that he never underestimates her, recognises when he is not equipped to do things and lets Lillian do her job – although it is difficult for him to step back at times.
There are, however, some weak points in the story which detracted from my enjoyment. The book seems to be split into two parts; the first in which the romance is established (which I found to be the weaker section) and the second part, which is when the plot plays out.
In the first half of the book we see Lillian and Dorian get to know each other. Dorian’s brother was Lillians trainer, so Dorian knows a lot about her and fell in love with the image his brother conveyed to him in his letters. Lillian is immediately attracted to Dorian, but there’s a touch of the insta-love going on, which meant that I had trouble feeling the connection between the characters. Lillian is also very conscious of her place in society and that Dorian is far and away her social superior, yet she doesn’t give so much thought to such things in other areas. I did, however, admire Dorian for his willingness to wait for Lillian and for her acceptance.
The pacing in the second half of the book ramped things up, and I really enjoyed how the plot develops and the action that takes place. We get to know some new characters whose stories I hope will be part of the series.
Overall, Deception is good read, although I’d rate the second half higher than the first. Giving the love story 3 stars and the fantasy plot 4 makes it a strong 3.5 stars for this interesting fantasy romance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.
Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.
Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.