The Devil's Mistress

Devil's Mistress by Laura Navarre

The Devil's Mistress

Jun 01, 2010
Samhain Publishing

Reviews

The Romance Readers' Connection

Mar 02, 2011

Historical Romance


 


Sir Joscelin Boleyn is the bastard son of Thomas Boleyn whose only dream is to be accepted by the father he never got to know.  Joscelin is an accomplished knight, who is considered a hero in many places.  Thomas Boleyn’s only concern is making sure that his daughter becomes Queen, and is willing to use and manipulate Joscelin in the process if needed.


 


Allegra Grimaldi is at the mercy of Maximo Montoya the Spanish Ambassador.  She has been commissioned to do all the bidding for Montoya with his current mission being to kill Anne Boleyn, keeping the throne for the Spanish Queen Catherine of Aragon.  For this he needs Allegra, but there is one problem in the way, Joscelin.  All Allegra wants is to ensure the safety of her family, who is in the custody of Montoya, who uses them as leverage to make Allegra do whatever he wants.


 


Joscelin tries not to think of Allegra for after all she is another man’s mistress.  She is also a supposed witch and possible husband murderer.  However, he cannot seem to get the raven-haired beauty out of his thoughts.  Despite her own attraction, Allegra warns Joscelin against his own attractions to her so that she can protect him.  Allegra has only felt disgust in the arms of men, but it’s different with Joscelin.


 


At times you find yourself screaming for them to kiss, just so that some of the sexual tension can be relieved.  Being that this is the debut for this author I was pleasantly surprised.  I found myself wanting to go on Google to check and see if these people truly existed.  However, at times the story seemed to be moving at a slow pace. Definitely looking forward to hearing more from this author and would recommend to anyone who loves historical romances.


 


Reviewed by LaTasha Taylor


Rating: 4

Reviewed by LaTasha Taylor

A Fiendishly Bookish Review (Amazon)

Mar 01, 2011

Diabolical Intrigue Takes Center Stage in "The Devil's Mistress" by Laura Navarre


Diabolical machinations and the female condition at the Tudor Court are at the heart of Laura Navarre's The Devil's Mistress. In her play on history, Navarre selects the most turbulent and invigorating of times...Henry VIII's reign, and the rise of the Boleyn's. Navarre's debut historical romance chronicles the path of one woman's life to free herself from an untenable situation, to be reunited with her family, and perhaps finally allow herself to love. But even the most innocuous of desires can be almost impossible to achieve.

As the successor to Europe's most fabled assassin, The Hand of God, Allegra Grimaldi has trained since childhood to follow in her father's footsteps. She can either weave the most intoxicating perfume or craft a draught that will stop your heart and steal your breath.

Coerced into a vicious marriage at the tender age of 13 to Conte Casimiro Grimaldi and cowering under the shadow of her husband (and his fist), Allegra barely escapes the Inquisition in Italy shortly after her husband's death. Agreeing to a devil's bargain with the Ambassador of Spain who wishes to use her arcane talents at the court of Henry VIII, Allegra flees for England at Don Maximo Montoya's side. She is only his willing puppet as long as he holds her beloved father and sisters hostage. But one day she vows to free her family and rid herself once and for all of his evil Excellency.

As Allegra becomes accustomed to Henry's court, the rampant intrigues, and endless political machinations, she comes to the attention of Joscelin Boleyn, bastard son of Thomas, Lord Rochford. Newly arrived in England with some notoriety in France, Joscelin has escalated up the ranks of the French court by the skill of his blade alone. It also doesn't hurt that his courtly manners are not lacking. He is instantly drawn to Allegra and begins his pursuit of her. But the don keeps Allegra on a short leash and under constant surveillance and though Allegra feels the pull of Joscelin, she will not allow herself to succumb.

The Devil's Mistress is not a light romance, but woven thickly against the political backdrop of the Tudor Court and that brings a whole plethora of challenges when navigating a historical romance. Navarre spares little relief for her leads, especially Allegra who bears the burden of being trapped between the evil Don Maximo and the inevitable axe of the Inquisition. When Joscelin is manipulated by his father to use Allegra's vulnerability to a visiting inquisitor, she finds herself enclosed on all sides.

The Devil's Mistress' underlying theme regarding the constraint of the female condition in the Middle Ages in its own way outshines Navarre's attempt at romance between Joscelin and Allegra. Love, however fleeting between the two of them is a hefty obstacle to overcome-but possible. Navarre shows her readers those possibilities (as well as a few select breathlessly intimate scenes). The liaisons between them are filled with steamy sensuality and sexual discovery and that lends an assist to the overly political theme present at all times throughout the book.

By the last page of The Devil's Mistress I felt a bit wrenched, but generally satisfied with the conclusion.

A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

Reviewed by A Fiendishly Bookish Review

All About Romance

Jul 10, 2010

Writing a historical romance set in the Tudor court is a task fraught with peril. Readers who are attracted to the setting will likely know the basics of the story, if not the details, and readers who know a historical era well can be notoriously unforgiving when authors tinker with the details too much. In her debut novel, Laura Navarre rises to the challenge, and does so with aplomb.


Allegra Grimaldi learned her trade at a young age. Her father trained her in the art of poisons, and now she lives in England under the dubious care and protection of Don Maximo, a Spanish diplomat. As a cover, Allegra is a perfumer to the ladies of the Tudor court, brewing scents and love potions.


Don Maximo is blackmailing Allegra into using her skills as a poisoner, and his target is Anne Boleyn, who threatens Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Allegra has no desire to kill anyone with her poisons, but she is terrified of what Don Maximo might do to her two younger sisters and her father.


Don Maximo pushes Allegra to poison Anne Boleyn, but Allegra can’t bring herself to kill. Instead, she plans to drop a small dose of a mild poison in Anne’s wine—just enough to make her ill for a day or two. As Allegra attempts to slip the tainted wine to Anne, she is caught by Joscelin Boleyn, Anne’s half-brother. Though he doesn’t know his sister well, Joscelin is protective of Anne, and the scheme is ruined. Joscelin, however, finds himself attracted to mysterious Allegra, who he sees as an outsider like himself. Though he senses that she’s up to no good, his curiosity is piqued, and he yearns to know more about her. These intrigues are merely the beginning of The Devil’s Mistress. From there, Navarre immerses us in the political gambits, scheming, and deception of the Tudor court.


Allegra’s conscience is part of her appeal. She has the ability to commit murder without being caught, but she isn’t willing to do so, even if it would mean freedom for her family. She’s a risk-taker in life and in love, and she’s willing to gamble her own well-being in order to preserve the lives and innocence of her sisters. She seems to have an innate grasp of court politics, and is able to use her wit and intellect to dig herself out of some messy situations.


I was skeptical of Joscelin Boleyn, the novel’s very fictional hero, at the outset. In less capable hands, the presence of this invented character in the midst of a very real (and very well-documented) royal court would have been a deal-breaker. By presenting him as an outsider at the Tudor court, as part of the Boleyn family but not part of their inner circle of espionage and deceit, Navarre made me believe that he could have existed.


The only minor criticism I have is that the dialogue does get a bit overwrought at times. Navarre is very conscientious about trying to capture the era in every way possible, and the use of old-fashioned colloquialisms is a part of her push for realism. For the most part, the dialogue is swift and witty, and it keeps the story moving at a brisk pace.


The love story between Allegra and Joscelin, while enjoyable, often takes a back seat to court politics. I felt that The Devil’s Mistress was the opposite of the stereotypical “wallpaper historical”—it was more of a historical novel with a strong romantic subplot and some steamy love scenes. While you could certainly escape into this book (and I did), readers looking for a mindless fluff read aren’t going to find it here. This is a fine debut, intelligently written, cleverly plotted, and well-researched, and I look forward to further novels of intrigue and romance from Laura Navarre.


-- Nanette Donahue

Reviewed by All About Romance

Fresh Fiction

Jun 01, 2010

"Historical romance at its best in this intriguing, passionate novel full of political intrigue and betrayal," Fresh Fiction Book Reviews. 

Robin Maxwell, award-winning author of THE SECRET DIARY OF ANNE BOLEYN

Mar 26, 2010

Exciting and passionate…a damn good writer.