Dangerous Passions

Desert Heat

The Dream

Fanning the Flame

The Fire Inside

Heartless

Midnight Sun

Hot Rain

Night Secrets

Perfect Sin

The Secret

Silk & Steel

 
The Devilís Necklace
by Kat Martin
(Mira, $7.50, PG) ISBN 0-7783-2199-1
****
There is something to be said for a pirate-turned-gentlemen who is tortured by his need for revenge. Add to that a lovely miss who is not what he assumes, friends who help him do the honorable thing, and a quest to find the truth. The plotlines are not completely new but they find ways to be more than rehashed adventures. Martinís second entry in the Necklace trilogy is an entertaining story and stands alone while making the reader curious about the previous entry.

Ethan Sharpe was a privateer during the war, meaning he was like a pirate, but with English government approval. A traitor turned Ethanís ship over to the French, causing many deaths and his own imprisonment. He has vowed to find the man responsible and bring him to justice. This man is purportedly Harmon Jeffries. The night before his execution, Jeffries escaped, with the help of his supposed mistress, Grace Chastain.

Ethan takes Grace off a ship on her way to Scarborough to force her to tell him where Jeffries is hiding. But Grace is not what she seems. She is Jeffries illegitimate daughter who has been raised by her mother and stepfather. No one is aware of her relationship. Grace doesnít even really know Jeffries, except through letters that she found which he had written her through the years. She vows to keep this information from everyone, yet knows Ethan can prove she is the one who paid for his escape and fears she will be sent to prison.

The first half of the story occurs on Ethanís ship. Grace is his captive and the many predictable things that one would expect from this type of tale take place: Grace and Ethan are forced to share a cabin; Grace tries to escape and is prevented; they must fight their attraction because even though Ethan believes her to be a strumpet, he is loathe to force any woman. What kept this from falling into mediocrity are the interesting twists thrown in by Martin and her ability not to succumb to what others have done before.

Here is an example. One of the crew keeps eyeing Grace when she is walking on deck. She is uncomfortable. As a reader, I assume that this sailor will try something with her, which will cause the captain to come to her rescue. But that doesnít happen. What does happen is a bit surprising. Suffice it to say, the tale is not completely predictable.

The second half of the book takes place in London and on Ethanís estate, as he assumes his role as the Marques of Belford. Ethan and Grace, who are forced to marry due to circumstances, must figure out a way to get on together despite her need to protect her father and his to find him and see him hanged. Again, there are twists that add complications that one cannot necessarily see coming. There are some familiar antics here too, and for just a bit, the story seems to stall as the two do not talk and there seems no hope. The ending is a tad rushed but is generally satisfying.

Tory and Cord from The Brideís Necklace play a prominent role in this story too. Rafe, a duke who is a friend, is introduced to be the main character from the upcoming The Handmaidenís Necklace and he looks to be a promising hero. The necklace is the common thread. There is a mystique attached to the necklace about finding happiness. In this case, true love does complete the tale.

Generally the story is interesting. Ethan is an alpha male but doesnít just overpower Grace Ėhe has some gentleness and appreciation of Grace as a person. Grace has some naivetť that does not always ring true, yet she is well balanced in her need for independence and her understanding of her role as a woman in Regency England. I did enjoy both of them and was glad things worked out for them.

The Devilís Necklace started strong and was engaging, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the readerís attention. The fact that it stayed with me after I was done indicated that I was invested and thus raised it to recommended status.

--Shirley Lyons


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