Book: The Devil’s Mistress
Author: Laura Navarre
Rating: 3.45 Stars
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Read an Excerpt
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)