|Jo Beverly: Devilish|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-451-19997-9
Mysterious and seductive, Lord Rothgar meets his equal in the fiercely independent Diana Westmount, the Countess of Arradale. Both refuse to marry. The lofty Rothgar, adviser to King George III, fears no human. At times he seems almost inhuman as a lethal swordsman and diabolical statesman who manipulates the deadly political game played by France against England. This haughty English courtier outwits French plots to destroy him, but he can't overcome the curse that may flow in his blood -- his mother's insanity. He endangers his life for England and the Malloren kin, but he won't risk marriage and children. His offspring might stain the noble Malloren bloodline with his mother's madness.
To protect herself, Diana Westmount avoids marriage. If she marries, her husband assumes her incredible wealth and possibly gets the family title, while she retains nothing but his largesse. This beautiful countess, who speaks several languages and shoots better than most men, challenges the male-dominated society.
She petitions King George to allow her to take the family seat in Parliament, a position reserved for males only. Her request enrages the staid and proper king, who commands Rothgar to bring her to London to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte. Even though Diana's noble bloodline may be older than his, King George will not allow this upstart countess to break tradition.
The king lectures Diana on a woman's place. He quotes the ancient Greeks who said "the gods created woman for the domestic functions, the man for all others." George tells her that "a woman's mind is different. It cannot understand the subjects and subtleties which engage the minds of men." Women, George claims, cannot learn Latin or Greek, and if they try it damages their brain.
Diana's brain works just fine in Latin, Greek, Italian, and French, but she meekly agrees with the King. If she disagrees, this perfectly sane woman could spend the rest of her life locked in a madhouse. Marriage might not be so intolerable, after all. But can she accept the man King George chooses for her to marry?
Only one man feels no threat from this unconventional woman. But he vowed never to marry. Can this strong-willed countess break the icy self-controlled Marquess of Rothgar?
In her "Author's Note" at the end of Devilish, Beverly writes, "Ever since his first appearance in My Lady Notorious, I've been bombarded with reader requests for Rothgar's story. I hope this has lived up to everyone's expectations." Devilish certainly succeeds. In fact, Devilish made me decide to read the two previous Malloren books still in print, Something Wicked and Secrets of the Night, and hoping her publishers follow through to reissue the first two Malloren stories, My Lady Notorious and Tempting Fortune.
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