Title: Devil’s Kiss
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Series: The Hellraisers (Book 1)
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Format: Paperback, 370 Pages
ISBN-10: 1420122274 (Kensington/Zebra)
ISBN-13: 978-1420122275 (Kensington/Zebra)
Reviewed by: Kiwi
A HANDSOME DEVIL
1762. James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger—and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure and pleasure with his four closest friends.
Which is how Whit finds himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey’s smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands—watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind…
Zora can’t explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can’t stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts’ desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can’t save Whit, she still has to escape him…
Quick & Dirty: Never make a deal with the Devil.
Opening Sentence: The Gypsy girl cheated.
If heaven and hell do exist, would you make a deal with the Devil if it meant having a hold on your wildest desires?
In a scary look into the minds of man, this novel shines a spotlight on the human condition complete with the insecurities, greed, lust and desires of five ne’er do wells known as the Hellraisers. A name given to them by society, and boy have they earned it. While staying at the estate of one of their members, they become bored and go looking for more trouble to get into. Their quest for iniquity leads them to a Gypsy settlement where they toss their money around in an attempt to have fun. For one of them, the endeavor is falling slightly flat. So, when it is discovered that nearby is an old set of Roman ruins claimed to harbor evil, he and the others can’t help but be intrigued, and decide to check it out, despite the warnings of the Gypsies. Warnings they should have headed, for encased in an enchanted box within these ruins is the very essence of the devil, and is released when these five decide to play Pandora. In a supposed display of gratitude, the devil, or Mr. Holliday as he wants to be known, bestows a gift upon each of the men, each one specifically designed to give them exactly what they want in life. And in exchange, all he required is a small token from each man.
Harmless fun, right? For the devil couldn’t possibly be lying to them, could he??
Our first story revolves around Lord James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney. He has received the gift of luck, with the ability to control the outcome of any game of chance, of any occurrence of probability, whether he means to win, or lose. And for Whit, the consummate gambler of the bunch, this gift seems to be everything.
He is also given the gift of the Gypsy Zora, a fortune teller who tried to stop them before they could make the nefarious deal, but she arrived too late. Upon her appearance, the Devil gifts Lord Whitney with a magical playing card that contains the Gypsy’s essence, trapping her inside, making her a ghost to everyone but Whit and forcing her to remain within twenty feet of the card at all times.
For a person, of the likes of a Gypsy, confinement anywhere is intolerable, but confinement to a single room is unspeakable. Once she was released from the card, Whit had one pissed off Gypsy on his hands. Zora is stubbornly defiant, refusing everything but what she needs to survive and even scaring Whit’s staff with her “ghost” antics.
Her time as a captive is suddenly ended after a meeting with another ghost, Valeria Livia Corva, the witch who originally trapped Mr. Holliday in the box. Livia is in need of allies in her renewed fight against the Devil and she bestows the power of fire upon Zora, also releasing her from her imprisonment.
Right around then is also when Whit realized the mistake he had made in making the Devil his copilot. Together with the spirit witch, Whit and Zora will battle the Devil and his minions, even if one of them is wearing Whit’s face. With the defeat of their enemy also comes love between our hero and heroine.
All in all an interesting premise, and a fine story to go with it.
“There’s more at stake than your own desires,” Zora said. “You’ve seen it, riding into town. The destruction, the madness.”
“Perhaps the fellows have run wild,” murmured Edmund. “A common occurrence.”
“Not on this scale,” Whit countered. “And it’s not only the students. All of Oxford runs wild. Only the slightest provocation and it descends into complete chaos. Imagine that chaos spreading like a pestilence. The smallest village all the way to London. Traveling beyond England’s shores. Riot, devastation and ruin.”
“Hell on Earth,” said Zora. “Unless you turn from the Devil.”
Bram scowled, his sharp features turning severe. “You sound like that mad Roman ghost.”
Zora straightened/ “You’ve seen her? Livia?”
“Damn spirit harasses me,” Bram muttered. “The others, too. Always speaking in broken riddles, but the message is clear enough. A shame, too. She’d be a beautiful woman… if she wasn’t demented.”
“And dead,” added Leo.
“Deranged she may be,” said Whit, “but she is trying to help.”
Bram’s scowl deepened, shifting toward a menacing snarl. “It isn’t helpful. It’s bloody maddening.” He took a step toward Zora and Whit. “End this nonsense. Return with us, back to London.”
“No going back.” Sorrow edged Whit’s voice, but it quickly hardened. “And if you come any closer, this saber comes out of its scabbard.”
Rather than cooling Bram’s temper, Whit’s threat only fueled it. His mouth twisted, and shadows crept into his eyes. “Unsheathe it, then.”
Whit did not move.
His stillness seemed to goad Bram. “Do it, Whit. Or do you gamble only with dice and cards, like a coward?”
Zora felt the tension within Whit, saw his jaw tighten and his fists clench. She knew some of the gorgio ways, enough to understand that Bram’s insult demanded retribution. Yet Whit battled this demand, for the sake of tattered friendship.
Seeing that his taunts did not work, Bram growled. From beneath his overcoat, he drew a sword. Torchlight licked along the blade.
Zora reached for her fire magic, and flames curled over the fingers of her free hand.
“You want me to fight you?” Whit could not keep the disbelief from his words.
Bram smiled unpleasantly as he brandished his sword. “I not only want it, I insist.”
The Hellraisers Series:
1. Devil’s Kiss
3. Sinner’s Heart
FTC Advisory: Kensington/Zebra provided me with a copy of Devil’s Kiss. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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