Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release date: May 24, 2011
Series: #1 in Regency Rogues
More info: Amazon The Book Depository
Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Lord William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, is a rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for Lady Lucinda Grey. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot. To do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must use his devilish charm to seduce Lucinda and convince her he’s worthy of her attention. William never planned to become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or to lose his own heart in the bargain.
Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. She’s tempted by his sinfully sensuous mouth and piercing eyes, and finds it hard to resist the champion thoroughbred he offers her in exchange for the honor of courting her. Can she keep him at arm’s length when his touch begs her to let him so much closer?
This is Stefanie Sloane's debut novel and overall, it's good. It's a light historical romance with some cute moments, some funny moments), and some sweet moments. Both the character development and the romance could have used some more fleshing out. I won the ARC on Goodreads (I confess, it's been sitting in my TBR pile for a while). One thing I do not like about reading ARC's is the tendency to numerous typos and copy editing issues. This one was particularly egregious; I assume that the final copy was revised and cleaned up.
First, let's look at the obstacles to Lucinda and Will's relationship. The conflict is fairly simple: Will needs to court Lucinda in order to prevent her from being kidnapped. Rather than tell her the truth (it was never clear to me why he wasn't allowed to tell her though late in the story, he finally does), he tries to court her. She has no interest in courting or marriage, she's determined to be single, so they make a wager - if he fails to win her heart in three months, she will take ownership of his racing stallion. She badly wants that horse for her family's horse breeding program, so she agrees. Since this is a romance, they fall in love with each other but neither wants to admit it to the other. So, there's a kidnap plot to foil, and reluctant lovers.
Will is supposed to be a rogue, with a history of debauchery, but we don't really get to see that. Supposedly, his reputation is so black that Lucinda runs the risk of ruining her reputation by allowing him to court her. Sloane tells us all of this, but doesn't show us. She does that a lot in the book. Lucinda has some modern beliefs about women and their roles in life, which I enjoyed. Her aunts, the Furies, provided a lot of comic relief. Although they are secondary, they greatly influence Lucinda and so I would have liked more development of their characters. Sloane does throw in the occasional historical detail which adds a little flavor to the story eg having Will step over "a steaming pile of horse dung". It's a small thing but it helps add to the atmosphere.
The romance happened pretty quickly, which didn't seem to jibe with their behaviors and personalities as Sloane described them. Both Lucinda and Will are quite likable, and their romance was enjoyable, it just happened faster than seemed plausible. I did enjoy watching them flirt, it was good, light-hearted fun.
"The Devil in Disguise" doesn't quite live up to it's name since the "devil", Will, is actually a decent man but the story is cute and a pleasant way to spend several hours.
I won this ARC in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.
I'm giving away my ARC of "The Devil in Disguise" by Stefanie Sloane.
The giveaway runs through Midnight EST this Saturday August 20th.
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