From the moment he first saw her, Julian knew he must possess her. And when he discovers her greatest secret, a scandal that could ruin her reputation and end her career, he knows just the way to use this damaging information to his most delightful advantage. He offers Olivia a deal with the devil: he'll keep her secret . . . if she allows him the chance to show her true ecstasy.
But Olivia must be careful, for Julian has a secret of his own: he will not rest until she is completely, shamelessly his.
I've been a fan of Anna Campbell's since I read "Courting the Courtesan". So when her third novel was being released, I was there, at the bookstore, the day it came out. Anna's book was my first read for 2009, and wow did it set off the new year just right. Brimming with passion, longing and even at times hopelessness, "Tempt the Devil" ran me through a plethora of emotion that kept me hanging on from page to page. I was dying to find out how Julian and Olivia were going to find their HEA.
Julian Southwood, Lord of Erith, has returned to London after being away quite some time in Vienna. He's come home for the wedding of his daughter Roma, and to make amends to his children for being away for so long. After the death of his beloved wife when he was in his early twenties, Julian cannot bear to be around his children, who remind him of what he's lost. But after many years away, it's time to bring the family back together.
He also desires a mistress, and no other woman will do but the notoriously beautiful and mysterious Miss Olivia Raines. Determined to have her at all costs, Julian approaches the aloof beauty just as she's in the market for a new protector. Despite a few reservations, Olivia agrees to become Lord Erith's mistress.
Julian believes he can command Olivia as he has every other woman, but he learns she's not one to easily capitulate. He just work to impress her, and even then, he's left feeling dissatisfied. Determined to make her wield, Julian follows her one day, and learns a shocking secret about his mistress. It is from this point on, he begins to see beyond the cool facade she shows to the world, and into the heart of a brave woman who has managed to capture his heart....
At first, TTD appears as if it was a story about two strong-willed, beautiful people fighting for supremacy against each other. Julian wishes to control his mistress and have her at his beck and call, while Olivia refuses to be kissed and is determined when the affair begins and ends. But things don't go according to plan for either of them. Neither one has ever been challenged by a lover before, and this not only adds to their attraction, it also begins to chip away at the secrets each one has kept buried for so long.
I found my heart aching for Olivia, who has suffered due to a tragedy in her past, and must now live with the consequences in an unforgiving society. But she has made a good life for herself with the hand she's been dealt, using the skills of a courtesan to secure her future and to protect her secret. She doesn't count on Julian crashing through her defenses and making her feel more like a woman than she ever has. But she knows that their union can never last, and prepares for the eventual end.
Julian is a force to be reckoned with, and once he's discovered what lies beneath Olivia's mask, he's reluctant to let her go. She's made him face himself, and the grief he's kept hidden away for years. He sees the unjustness of her situation, yet even he cannot deny what she is, and at one point, though he acted only to protect his family, I actually hated Julian so deeply that I didn't know how I was going to be able to enjoy the rest of the book. But of course Ms. Campbell made him suffer greatly for it, and all was right with the world again. Julian was able to redeem himself sufficiently enough that I could forgive him for hurting Olivia so cruelly, and by the end of their story, he gave her the HEA she totally deserved. Needless to say, I was wrung out by the time I got to the last page, but in a very good way. As Marisa mentioned in her RNTV review, this book may have a simple premise, but underneath it all is a complex and intensely emotional love story that will stay with you long after you close the book.
Sidenote: Another lovely bonus to this story is that we see Saroya (Verity) and Justin again, and how their marriage has progressed since "Courting the Courtesan". I wasn't expecting it, and it was a delight. Once again Anna Campbell has written a superb love story, and I'm almost sorry I finished the book as quickly as I did because now I want more. So Anna if you're listening, write faster!
Rating: ***** out of *****