“Aubrey Montford claims to be a widowed housekeeper. Desperate to keep her new post – and her secrets – she transforms desolate Castle Cardow into a profitable estate. Yet soon after her employer, Lord Walrafen, returns from long years of absences, Aubrey is suspected of murder. Sparks and tempers ignite whenever she and the smoldering earl meet, but he may be her only hope.
Walrafen returns reluctantly to the childhood home he loathes. Cardow is said to be haunted – by more than the earl’s sad memories – but it was no ghost that murdered his uncle. Is the castle’s beautiful chatelaine a murderess? At the very least, she’s a liar – he has proof. Yet the truth of his soul is that he’s drawn to her with a fierce passion he’s never known…”
“The daughter of London’s wickedest widow, Helene de Severs has learned to govern her own reckless emotions. Renowned within Europe’s emerging field of psychiatric medicine, Helene has a gift for healing children. When fate sends her back to the village she once left in disgrace, Helene is confident she can govern her own reckless emotions, too.
The Earl of Treyhern has dragged his family back from the brink of ruin. But a disastrous marriage has left him with a traumatized child, and his rebellious brother Bentley is just one step ahead of the bailiffs. When his father drops dead while debauching the governess, Treyhern’s famous self-control almost snaps. Desperately in need of a good governess, Treyhern hires the very best. And when Helene steps down from his carriage, his resolve is truly tested—by a rush of desire he’d long thought dead.”
A Deal with the Devil is one of those hist-ros that you plow through without really loving or hating either way. My biggest problem was that it was very dark. So if you like really strong backstory conflict, this might be a good book for you. There are some nice, poignant moments and a more realistic love story than usual, so Carlyle definitely is right on (or should I say write on) there.
I liked Beauty Like the Night a lot more, with a quicker plot line and an interesting backstory of past lovers reunited under difficult circumstances. The heroine has some great qualities, but mostly is enlivened by a cast of funny and some mysterious supporting characters.
I should point out, too, that both plots feature children which I generally steer clear from…too much sentimentality and often it gets in the way of real character depth. But Carlyle’s kids are carefully situated as not to distract from the main focus, and definitely will make a connection with readers who have ever tried raising children in the midst of a love affair.
Not as strong as her One, Two, Three series, both books (also parts of series) are likable enough to pick up for those who enjoy a more mature romance plot. For those wanting a light hearted romp, steer clear.