Sunday, September 29, 2013
Review: The Devil's Heart by Cathy Maxwell
Publication date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Avon Romance
Series: The Chattan Curse #3
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This is a good conclusion to the Chattan Curse trilogy, and while it can be read as a stand alone, it's much better to read the trilogy in whole as there are recurring characters. I rarely read historical romance with fantasy elements, but this curse is rather interesting, and the characters are more than they seem.
As Lyon and Harry Chattan fall prey to the Chattan curse when they fell in love in the first two books, Lady Margaret Chattan is on a trip to Fenella's home in Scotland to put an end to the curse before her brothers die. During her journey, she is beset by ravaging storms and unpredictable events, one of which put her in a coma, to be found by Heath Macnachtan, the last of the Machnactan line, descendants of Fenella who cursed the Chattans. As he falls prey to Margaret's beauty, they must work together to solve the mystery of the curse before it's too late.
The book's pacing is slow at first, to finally pick up speed about half-way in the story. I didn't like the impetuousness of Margaret's character at first, when she just up and shot Heath in a moment of panic. Furthermore, Heath continued to help this beauty despite not believing in the curse, falling prey to physical attributes. Thankfully though, the characters are shown to have more depth as the story develops, and they are presented more than just the Unattainable (title bestowed upon Margaret by her admirers) and Laird of one of the poorest clans in Scotland.
Margaret hides a scandal in her past under a glacial mask of aloofness, never letting anyone get close to see her vulnerability, and stopped believing in love. Because of that, only her brothers saw past her mask, and for them, she gained enough courage to confront a witch and a centuries-old curse despite in constant fear of failing. This sets up our lonely and emotionally-weak heroine, who learns the meaning of true love with Heath. Heath sought an escape from his poor clan through the navy, and when his brother was murdered, he was forced to confront his heritage and an impoverished clan. With so much financial trouble, it would all be solved if he could marry rich Margaret, yet he doesn't want to be labeled as a fortune hunter. This back-and-forth arguing about marrying and proposals between them became tedious once they declared their feelings, so I must admit to some relief that the curse actually aided their relationship.
What I like about this book is that Margaret realizes "love is discovering that here, at last, finally, is a person I can trust, someone I know will never hurt me and yet will always be honest with me." Heath took a while longer to fall in love with Margaret's courage and inner determination, but as usual, it's a happy-ever-after.
The mystery aspect of this book, that of Heath's brother's death and the resolving of the curse, is nicely done. With fast-paced action and eloquent writing, I recommend this book to readers, if they can overlook some flaws in characterization and pacing. Cathy Maxwell's books are usually hit-or-miss for me, so I'm glad to note this one isn't a miss.
Rating: 4 tulips
*I received an ARC from the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review