Christian Montcalm was a practical man, if a destitute scoundrel, but his plan to bed and wed the delectable Miss Hetty Chipple would take care of that sticky wicket. However, there was a most intriguing obstacle to his success.
Annelise Kempton desired nothing more than to come between this despicable rogue and the fortune (and virtue) of her young charge. Certainly, Annelise understood the desperation that comes from hard times, but Montcalm would fail -- she would personally see to it. All that stood in her way was a man whose rakish charm could tempt a saint to sin, or consign a confirmed spinster to sleepless nights of longing . . . to give the devil his due.
I've had this book in the TBR pile for a long time. Although Anne Stuart is one of my favourite authors her latest historicals did not have the same ring for me that her earlier ones and so I haven't been as eager of picking them up. However I did get The Demon Count in the mail last week and that made go and look at my pile of books and decide to try this one.
The story in itself is not that original. The ultimate wounded hero turned rake that ends up redeemed and the best of husbands thanks to the love of a good woman. I've read that before and, in fact, Stuart herself has written it before - for instance in (for me the much superior) To Love A Dark Lord. It's not that I didn't enjoy this one but it failed to mesmerize me and make me want to reread it immediately like the said TLADL.
The plot is a familiar one, Christian Montcalm is half French but since his entire family was murdered during the Revolution he has denied his nationality and refuses to acknowledge his French origins. He was raised by his grandfather who disliked him and abused him since childhood and squandered all his fortune so has to leave him nothing. So Christian decides the best thing is to marry for money and Hetty Chipple, the daughter of a rich merchant seems to be the ideal candidate.
But Chipple is not as innocent as he appears and besides him Montcalm also has to deal with Hetty's companion, the honourable Annelise Kempton, whose difficult financial straits led her to be of help with your ladies trying to find a tilted husband.
When Montcalm succeeds in making Hetty elope with him, Annelise and Hetty's former love descend on his country house looking for them and trying to avoid the worst. Which they do of course, but Montcalm still doesn't acknowledge his feelings till Hetty's father arrives with murder on his mind. Mr. Chipple was a really nasty villain who not only profited from his bad deeds but he seemed to relish in doing them too.
Now I had a problem with both Montcalm and Annelise. He wasn't has fascinating to me as I was told he should be and I didn't feel the duality, that usually exists in Stuart's bad boys, between good and evil. And she wasn't as interesting as I thought she should be for him to be attracted, she was too perfect in her gentlewoman's behaviour for him to know that she could be more than that. Regarding the secondary love story (Stuart usually has very good ones) I was also left a bit cold by it. Hetty is not that likeable, not even in the end, and I didn't get to know William enough to like him either. Other than that the story is well written, entertaining and much better than most that are published nowadays.
I guess I really have to reread TLADL soon because I kept comparing them and that might not have been fair to The Devil's Waltz. I just hope that it is as good as I remember.