DEVIL IN THE DARK (along with THE WOLF OF HASKELL
Colleen Shannon) launches the new Gothic Romance line by
Leisure Love Spell).
The story takes place in Victorian England, 1860. As one
would expect of a gothic, Devil in the Dark is filled with
mystery, intrigue, and a dark and dangerous secret. This
one in particular is a study in contrast, of dark and
light, black and white. Even the heroine's name means
light. She is fair and lovely, as naturally the Duke is as
dark as his sordid past.
Black and white is the way Lucinda Fairfax had viewed her
world from the time she was a sickly five year old.
The young American woman had recently left her cousin's
farm in New England to journey to the moors of Yorkshire,
just as her father had all those many years ago, and for
the very same reason...an unexpected inheritance. The late
Viscount Westcombe had been a second son. He had gone left
home to seek his fortune in America, where he had married
and had one child, Lucinda.
A mere five years later, after his father and older brother
both died, simultaneously, he had abandoned his family, to
claim his inheritance, or so it had seemed to Lucinda's
then childlike mind. To her knowledge he had never sent for
them, or given them more than a thought in all the ensuing
years. Her mother had died seven years past still deeply in
love with her absent husband. Even then the man had not
sent for his only child.
Lucinda considers herself practical, and has no use for
men, knowing what fools they could make of a susceptible
woman. Her mother's death had left her to the mercies of a
cousin who couldn't wait to get rid of her. If her
inheritance had served a purpose, it had released Lucinda
from her commitment to a unwanted arranged marriage.
Lucinda had planned to liquidate her assets and return to
America as a woman of means, free to live a life of her own
choosing. It was not to be, for a stipulation in her
father's will only allows for the property to be sold by
her future son and heir. An unlikely prospect at best.
Nevertheless Lucinda receives the profits from her father's
industries and retains her plan to return once she has put
the estate in order.
Her new life nearly ends as soon as it's begun. Stopping
for a brief respite on a dark country road enroute to her
estate she is nearly run down by a dark figure on
horseback, dressed all in black, his cape, lined in blood
red whipping behind him. His hair and even his eyes are
black as the night. Lucinda's hood is blown back revealing
her lovely face and flowing blond hair. Time stops as the
two stare into each other's eyes. The rider nods and rides
off without a word of apology
Little does she know it, but sensible Lucinda's life has
changed forever in that blink of an eye. Her second shock
comes with the viewing of her new home. To have said that
she was comfortably well off had been a gross
understatement. To think that her father had indulged
luxury while she and her mother had lived in genteel
poverty! To top things off, her greeting upon arrival is
tepid at best. Her new servants are wary, her father had
never mentioned her to anyone before his death. One more
reason to add to her distrust of men,.
In spite of her lukewarm reception, Lucinda's curiosity
gets the best of her. The man who had nearly taken her
life, was none other than Gideon Blackthorne, the
thirteenth Duke of Ravenswood. She had heard gossip about
him on the train from London. She wants to know everything
about the man and takes to pumping the servants about him.
They say he is more devil than man, a danger to a man's
life, and a woman's virtue. But the story that unfolds is
more sad than sinister. It would appear the thirteenth duke
had been born under an unlucky star. He was a second son,
born an unexpected twin. His mother had not survived his
birth. Typically, the grieving father had blamed the
innocent infant for his loss.
Though identical in appearance, Gideon had grown up a
somber child, while Geoffrey the heir had been reckless and
wild. But they twins had been devoted to each other none
Taking her cue from their father the boys' nurse had doted
on the elder and despised the younger boy. Their father had
held Gideon responsible for Geoffrey's scrapes. The final
of these had been an irresponsible jump on his horse. A bad
landing had resulted in the horse being destroyed, and
after recuperating from a serious head injury, Geoffrey had
never been the same. Gideon had been blamed for not being
on hand to talk his reckless brother out of the jump.
The boy's father had be loathe to admit that his beloved
son had changed, until his behavior became so detrimental
that he had no choice but to seek help. That is when the
final tragedy occurred. Enroute by sea to consult with a
specialist, the boy, his father, and a family retainer had
been swept overboard in a sudden storm.
The somber, unloved, younger twin had buried his remaining
family, and taken on the unexpected onus of the Duchy (the
reader should see the irony here, his situation being
identical to Lucinda's father's). It is said that his
behavior had changed at from that moment forth. He had
refused to take his seat in Parliament, tying himself to
the land by day, riding recklessly upon the moors by night,
and if the rumors are even half true, he had spread his
seed far and wide as well.
Lucinda is fascinated in spite of her feelings regarding
men. She is also excited about her new inheritance and more
than a bit disconcerted about the aura she'd felt when
examining her late father's suite of rooms. Unable to sleep
she takes a walk in her new garden. A man steps out of the
shadows. Tall and powerful, Lucinda knew without seeing his
face who that man was. He had come with a belated apology,
a kiss, and a warning.
Lucinda receives warnings aplenty, from servants as well as
socialites. Adding to her confusion is an odd old woman
who alternately warns her about the Duke and encourages her
budding relationship with Gideon. Lucinda can not reconcile
the tales she hears to the man she is coming to know. There
is no doubt whatsoever that the two are drawn to each
other, though Gideon does his best to drive her away.
He claims he has nothing to offer her, that now is all they
have, but she is willing to settle for what she can get.
Then the attempts begin upon her life. It is then that he
realizes that staying away from her has been a mistake. He
needs to protect her, keep her close. But can he protect
his own heart?
This story is not without it's supernatural element, and
this holds the key which opens Lucinda's mind to life's
varied shades of gray. An opportune discovery finds her
reevaluating her own past from the opposite side of the
coin, and she finally realizes that she is a quite
different woman than her mother had been. She has already
shaken off her sensible persona and she will not stand by
and watch the great love of her life slip away. She must
grasp her fate with both hands. Can Lucinda find a way to
heal her lover's tortured soul, so that they can be
Though the reader will undoubtedly guess Gideon's secret
fairly early in the story (clues abound), in my opinion
this did not detract from the story. Ms. Roger's clever
writing captured the flavor of this by gone era, posing
dilemma's for our heroine unrelated to her developing
romance, and of course she comes up with the perfect
solution. As a genuine lover of both romantic suspense and
the Victorian era, I found it all rather fascinating.
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted July 19, 2001