Among The Muses's Reviews > The Devil's Temptress

The Devil's Temptress by Laura Navarre
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Laura Navarre delivers a very well-written novel made for historical fiction romance readers who love a story richly articulated with a period voice. From clothing to dialogue, religion to war, Navarre captures the essence of the time when the knights of the Crusades and political unrest influence the course of many subjects lives. A mesmerizing tale of manipulation and seduction that drives a course of action for all players involved. Who do you trust when everyone seems out for themselves?

Due to the abundance of twist-and-turns within the carrying out of the plot, I've tread carefully in the descriptions and summary of this story, not wanting to reveal too much. Half the enjoyment in the reading of The Devil's Temptress is tying to assess who's who and what will happen next!

In 1174 Poitiers, France, Lady Alienore of Lyonstone is the daughter of an Earl. Her rightfully inherited lands have been seized by her ex-Crusader brother who's tied them to a most unfortunate event. She's escaped her betrothal to the horrendous drunkard, Duc d'Ormonde by finding refuge under her godmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, and becoming her Grace's most virtuous, privy chancellor. A position that grants Alienore time to petition the king for her rights and offers her both protection and offense. For the Queen of England has betrayed her husband, King Henry of England, the Duke of Normandy, and everyone who portrays to have taken a side with Eleanor of Aquitaine, may find themselves one-step closer to being viewed as a traitor. Including the honorable and most virtuous Alienore, herself.

With so many people weary of those around them and the meaning behind the actions and words issued, it is only apparent that when the dark and mysterious knight who shows up at court not bearing a Christian name, but rather goes by the name Raven and known as the "Devil of Damascus", mystery and suspicion ensues. Is he a spy for the king or a mercenary knight? Whoever he may be, the most virtuous lady cannot deny the interest she feels toward the mysterious stranger.

Circumstances quickly change when political challenges arise and the jilted betrothed of Lady Alienore is rumored to have left England in search of her at Aquitaine (France). A rumor is all it takes for Alienore to escape and into a completely different danger. One in which the part Normandy, part Saracen knight will become Alienore's savior, hero, betrayer, capturer, lover, and future. Naive Alienore quickly learns that everyone is a pawn in the king and queen's plans, and having Scotland threatening an invasion on Alienore's own home lands, changes her course -- and life -- yet again! Only this time she finds herself permanently tied to the Raven ... despite not knowing his real name and intentions.

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Peppered with French expressions and period created dialogue, Navarre brings to life early twelfth-century Normandy and England through her consistent and intelligent writing style. Readers who delight in feeling like they're being transported back in fictional time will surely rejoice in this.

Adventures that stem from betrayal, deceit, and war whisks characters across politically delicate lands of Normandy and England, and also gives notice to the upheaval between them and Scotland. Historical facts carry the plot and enhance the sub-plots and action. In fact, the romance and relationship between the hero and heroine is nothing short of rocky, stemming from the Raven's past as a Christian Crusader, and her own past of hurt and naivety.

It takes a strong woman to accept a broken man, and in The Devil's Temptress, the relationship between the hero and heroine seems plausible and heart-felt.

The protagonists were enjoyable and believable. Events of the time period held true to the making of the personalities, actions, and beliefs of the characters. I could imagine a head-strong heroine, scared of sexuality due to religious obligations and personal experiences, tightly embracing the honor of herself and her family's name, and naively loyal to those she holds dear, so much so that she finds herself at one-point labeled a traitor leaving her to rely on her dark hero. Of the two protagonists, I felt as though Alienore had the most dynamic shift of character development. Her 'eyes' were slowly opened to the reality of her circumstances and to the perceptions of those around her. From the beginning, she maintained a naive, head-strong strength and determination about her that eventually balanced out to a more well-rounded individual.

Raven, the mysterious and handsome ex-Christian Crusader knight is believable in his personality and actions as well. How would the horrendous events of the Crusades shape the man and believer of God? I can only imagine that doubt and anger would be products -- and Navarre brings those factors front-and-center in the making of Raven's character. His own hatred towards himself makes him his own villain. At the end of the tale, the Raven will reveal his true identity and take steps at reclaiming his self and position -- of course with the help of Alienore!

One of my favorite lines that also explains a little about the characters:

“I’ve wanted you since the day I looked in your eyes.” Sweet with cloves, his breath brushed her face. “And found a woman strong and fierce as a lion, who’d challenge the devil himself. I’ve wanted you my whole life … searched for you without knowing it.”


Many characters take up residence within the unfolding of the story. Twists-and-turns and ups-and-downs keep the reader guessing and inferring as to what will happen next and who's betraying who, something I greatly appreciate when reading. The plot and sub-plots are all concluded by the end of the story making you feel like you're not left hanging.

As for the sensuality in the story, readers who revel in description and abundance will more than likely be left unsatisfied. Navarre holds back the strong descriptions and makes the characters wait before acting on desires, but that doesn't mean there's a lack of sexual tension! But, sex itself is meant to portray the growth and development of feelings of the characters, what they come to mean to one another despite the misleading events that bring them together. This is especially true when it comes to Alienore; Her honor and virtuousness compels her. This is story that I felt as though nothing were contrived -- events, actions, dialogue, and the romance and intimacy!

Laura Navarre is a new-to-me author that's made me a fan through her carefully crafted, engaging, historically contextual, romantic, and plausible tale of one broken knight and one virtuous woman who learn that saving themselves can be found in the arms of another. I recommend this book to those historical romance fans who enjoy a strong historically articulated tale where romance is carefully unfolded and reveled, and sexual tension holds more presence then graphic sex. I'm definitely looking forward to what Laura Navarre has in store for readers next!
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