Reviewed by Carol Cork at Rakes and Rascals
I love Eva Devon’s books but I also enjoy the dark, intense and compelling romances she writes as Máire Claremont. Her Mad Passions series is one of my favourites and I’m delighted that this is the first book in a new series.
War hero Captain Jack Hazard is a powerful, ruthless, ambitious, self-made man and one of the richest in London. He is runs Hazard’s Outriders, the most illustrious bodyguard service in England, whose clients come from the highest echelons of society. But, however polished his speech or immaculate his dress, a man like Jack, who grew up in the slums of London, will never be accepted within their ranks, not that he has any desire to be. Everything that Jack has achieved has been driven by his desire for revenge against the Duke of Chiles, the man he holds responsible for the torments of his past and his friend’s death.
He would do everything to avenge Devlin and his own life. And if the rage growing inside him would help. . . He’d welcome it in. Without regret.
When, Lady Regan Chance, the duke’s granddaughter, hires Hazard’s Outriders to protect her, Jack sees this as the perfect opportunity to gain access to the Chance household, and search for evidence that will bring about the duke’s downfall.
Jack certainly satisfied my love for tormented heroes. Knowing all that the young Jack suffered made it easy to understand how those experiences had forged the man he had become…hard, cynical and ruthless. All his pent-up anger and hatred is a darkness in his soul which threatens to destroy any shreds of humanity.
Lady Regan Chance is in mourning for her beloved father, who has been brutally murdered. She feels the pain of losing her father deeply; theirs was a loving relationship and she had been truly happy.
Regan closed her eyes. Good God, would it never go away? The need to wrap her arms around her father. To pretend for one moment, that she could rest her head on his chest and feel at home again.
Both her grandfather and her uncle vehemently disagreed with her father’s philanthropic works among the poor of Whitechapel. Despite her grandfather’s efforts to stop her, Regan is determined to continue her father’s charitable works and fulfil his wish to provide schools for the poor. She is fully aware that only her spotless reputation has enabled her to continue her work independently and any hint of scandal would jeopardise everything. While visiting Whitechapel to see the progress being made with the school, she is the victim of a terrifying attack. Although a pacifist, Regan realises that her life is in danger and is forced to compromise her principles and seek the services of Hazard’s Outriders.
I found it easy to sympathise with Regan and feel her pain for the loss of her father. I admire her determination to see her father’s wishes fulfilled and her genuine compassion for those less fortunate than herself.
I love how Jack and Regan’s romance is a journey of discovery about each other. At first, Jack sees Regan as simply a means to an end in his pursuit of revenge against her grandfather but gradually, seeing her bravery, compassion and optimism, she comes to mean more to him.
The woman was slipping into his blood like wine and if he didn’t watch himself, she wouldn’t be leaving.
Regan sees Jack as the epitome of everything she hates…rough and violent. However, as she discovers things about him that seem to belie her initial opinion, her feelings start to change.
She liked him. Too much. Far too much. Regan let out a breath of air. He was a fascinating combination of violence and kindness. And she wanted to understand him in a way she never thought to understand a man.
It is also a story of danger, betrayal, passion, redemption and ultimately love. It is Regan’s love that dispels the darkness from Jack’s soul and makes him realise that hate has no place in his life.
Jack’s fingers tightened around hers and they left together, silently, as if they both knew that together they were entering a new life. One without the shadows of the past and nothing but a future together.
The secondary characters play an important role in the story, none more so than the hateful Duke of Chiles. The lengths to which he is willing to go to protect the social and political status quo is truly shocking. I found Jack’s friend Adam Ashecroft, the Earl of Easton, intriguing as there is the hint of mystery surrounding him and I’m hoping he may be the hero of the next book. I like the scandalous Countess Sylvia Chance, Regan’s aunt-in-law, who is her only ally in the Chance household. I also enjoyed the banter between Jack and Thomas O’Malley, his assistant, which provides some much-needed light relief.
I like how Ms Claremont highlights the darker aspects of Regency society…the plight of orphaned children exploited for monetary gain and the determination of the upper class to keep the lower class “beneath their shining boots”. Fortunately, there were those like Regan with a social conscience, willing to help the less fortunate.
MY VERDICT: If you are in the mood for a dark, intense romance with a suspenseful plot and compelling characters, then I can definitely recommend IN THE DEVIL’S BED.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM