Monday, May 13, 2013

DEVIL BLACK by Laura Strickland

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date published: 4-5-2013
ISBN: 978-1-61217-694-9
Historical, Medieval
Reviewed by Helen
Obtained via publisher

It’s 1608 and Isobel Maitland’s father decides to marry her younger sister to the son of a friend of his in the wilds of Scotland. But Catherine is in love with another man so Isobel exchanges places with her. The coach is held up, robbed and Isobel abducted.
Dougal MacRae, the Black Devil, is haunted by terrifying memories yet determined to protect his lands. When he steals the woman his worst enemy is to marry it’s all about revenge. Until he begins to learn that Isobel is a person in her own right.

I was sucked into this wild, fierce, cruel, lawless, violent world right from the very first chapter of this book. For such a long book (77000 words) there aren’t really a lot of characters. Of course there are warriors and tribesmen on both sides of the strife, but they are unnamed and more a presence and a background than people. Which actually adds dramatically to the cold harshness of the world. But the named, genuine characters are all very vivid and real, each fully realized with distinct personalities drawing the reader into their individual lives.

Isobel is an excellent match for Diabhal Dubh. He is tortured, wounded, harsh, powerful, and honorable underneath his tough exterior. She is just as determined and fierce for those she loves and what she believes is right. She’s also quite smart enough to find a solution to problems herself.

As well as creating a fascinating historical world, and engaging characters, Ms. Strickland has also created some brilliant lines of dialogue and a few laugh-out-loud moments, to ease the tension from the underlying violence of much of this story. And rest assured the story (and the historical period it is set in) is very violent. Sex is also an integral part of this story. Although it isn’t described explicitly, it is central and key to the plot.

Half a dozen annoyingly confused words prevented this book from getting top marks (defuse/diffuse, junction/juncture, assure/ensure, curb/hearth etc).

A violent, harsh, racy, and utterly compelling and gripping tale. I defy anyone to put the book down before they finish reading it.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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