Avon, 2010 (originally published 2008)
Synopsis- For Olivia Raines, London’s most notorious courtesan, and the infamous Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith, falling in love will be the greatest risk of all in this wicked and wild romance from Anna Campbell.
Any man in London would worship her. Yet Olivia is, quite frankly, bored of them all. Despite her many dalliances, she’s never felt true passion, never longed for any lover’s touch…until Julian, London’s most notoriously wanton rake, decided to make her his mistress.
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.
Review- My first Campbell novel… and it won’t be my last! I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this book by the author when I attended one of her workshops at GenreCon. She asked those who hadn’t read her work before to put their hands up and lucky me, I got a free book! I actually spoke to a few historical (romance) fiction fans at the convention and those who had read Campbell’s work all had wonderful things to say.
Wow, this book blew me away. I was expecting a sweet historical romance; instead I got a sexy, multifaceted love story between an unconventional couple- a lord and a courtesan. Not only was the story set largely in the bedroom, but it was also more focussed on the male protagonist’s perspective than the female. I was captivated at every scene. Campbell expertly captures the mood, highlights what is at stake for each character and purposefully makes them face their fears. Both Olivia and Julian were so well developed and their internal conflict dissected until just the bare bones of the character remained.
Betrayed as a child, Olivia’s life took a different path to the one she’d dreamed and she became one of the most notorious courtesans in London. Olivia Raines is on the hunt for another lover and takes on the challenge of the womanising Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith. Olivia expects Erith to be just like every other man, one who takes what he wants but she expects to remain in control. But from their very first evening together Olivia is struck by the complete lack of control she really does have in her new arrangement. It’s only exacerbated when Julian discovers the courtesans’ secret- she’s never experienced true desire and passion. Erith will not accept any theatrics in the bedroom; he wants his lover to desire him as much as he desires her. And there are no limits to how far he will go to tempt Olivia. An impulsive wager set by Erith (who can get the other to surrender first) sets the wheels in motion.
With a traumatic past, Erith has a huge task in challenging Olivia to let go of her defences and trust him; especially when their lover’s contract is only for a few months. It’s not long before Erith gets under her skin and for the first time in her life Olivia admires rather than despises a man and takes the first tentative steps toward letting down her guard. But she has the most to lose; if she falls in love her heart will inevitably be broken. Erith’s initial challenge is complicated when he discovers the depth of his feelings toward Olivia. In saving her soul, he may just save his own.
Erith is a complicated hero, he’s arrogant and powerful yet he has an underlying vulnerability lying dormant since the death of his beloved wife. There were times his behaviour made me cringe and I despised his controlling behaviour. Especially the very first bedroom scene where he pretty much treats Olivia like a new toy. What’s wonderful about Erith was the potential for growth, his capacity to reflect on his behaviour and how it affected Olivia and his resolve to put Olivia’s needs before his own. Gradually, the trust is built and the barriers are broken down and Olivia and Erith’s love for each other is well and truly exposed. Olivia’s defences are so well constructed that the vulnerability Erith’s love exposes within her is best avoided.
The story spans over just a few weeks but the intimacy that develops between Olivia and Erith is believable, probably because it’s difficult not to be when they spend every night in bed together. Erith grew into the man I’d hoped he’d be and Olivia found the courage to face the demons of her past and put her prejudice toward men aside.
Tempt the Devil is an intense, wild rollercoaster ride with equally fiery characters that pulls at the heart strings. I’m delighted to have discovered this talented Australian author, Campbell has found herself a new fan!
Tempt the Devil can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge: