Devlin by Erin Yorke
(Harlequin Historical #402, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-29002-0
****
Devlin is a very nice joint effort from the writing duo of Susan Yanisick and Christine Healy, writing as Erin Yorke. It's always interesting to read a book that is written by more than one person. Sometimes, it's intriguing to try to attempt to pick out different "author's voices." However, in Devlin, the author's voice is so seamless that it appears to have been written by one person.

The story is set in Ireland, 1593, and first we meet Devlin Fitzhugh, a gallowglass. Please allow me to save you that trip to the dictionary, and tell you that a "gallowglass" is an Irish term for a hired mercenary, or soldier of fortune. He is in service to an Irish chieftain, The MacMahon. His current assignment is to rescue the son of the chieftain, who is being held in an English stronghold. Not a mission to be taken lightly, and not a mission without risk or peril.

Devlin has many things on his mind, including the recent arrival of a young daughter he's never known; and the irritating presence of a foster son of The MacMahon, who is jealous of Devlin's relationship to the leader of the clan. The raid to rescue The MacMahon's son is further complicated by the untimely appearance of an Englishwoman - Alyssa Howett. She effectively cuts off Devlin's chance of escape by placing herself in danger, and he finds himself a captive of the hated English.

It's in the dungeon of the English stronghold that Devlin and Alyssa's relationship begins. She feels guilty, since she was inadvertently the cause of his imprisonment, and she does what she can to make him more comfortable. Devlin dreads his imprisonment, and imminent death, but finds Alyssa's visiting almost worse. He does admire her spirit, intelligence and kindness, but the inability to touch her soon brings him pain. There is quite a difference in their ages - Devlin is 29, Alyssa is 17 - and that bothered not only me, but Devlin. For a while, Alyssa seems to be falling into hero worship rather than love, or else seeking a father figure. Her own father has been absent from her life for many years.

I soon realized that Alyssa was not a flighty 17 year old, but a very mature woman in her thoughts and desires. She thinks, "Like most men, he needed to think he was in control of his destiny, and she'd not deny him that privilege - false though it might be." That little bit of womanly wisdom definitely brought a smile to my face! When the opportunity to escape with Devlin presents itself, Alyssa does not hesitate.

Devlin realizes that she sees him as hero - "He was simply a man, and a man who had made many mistakes during his turbulent lifetime at that." A cautious man, he dreads opening his heart to her - "a mere slip of a girl." Eventually, he must either betray his chieftain or his woman.

Devlin and Alyssa are strongly developed characters, and their love story is nicely presented against a background of deception and betrayal. I admired Alyssa's steadfastness, and Devlin's ability to adapt. They suited each other nicely, and the obstacles in their path were easily overcome, but not without some interesting adventures of the Irish rebellion. The addition of Devlin's daughter to their blossoming relationship added rather than detracted, since it also helped with Alyssa's relationship with her father. All in all, Devlin was a nice sojourn to Ireland, told in an easy-to-read author's voice.

--Julia S. Sandlin


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