To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt
To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt (2009) is the fourth, and final, installment in The Legend of the Four Soldiers Series--and the one I've been waiting to read because of the hero, Reynaud St. Aubyn. And, for once with a favorite hero from a series, I wasn't disappointed with this book!
Reynaud has spent seven years in the (American) colonies as a captive of a (Native American) tribe. The survivors of his regiment returned to England without him, thinking him dead. Finally escaping and making his way to London, the book begins when he bursts into his father's home in London, ill and looking like someone who has been a slave for seven years.
Unknown to Reynaud, of course, his father died five years earlier, leaving his title and wordly possessions to pass to a distant relation. Reynaud actually bursts into a party being held by Beatrice Corning, the niece of the current Earl of Blanchard.
Since her uncle obtained the title and they moved to the home in London, Beatrice has actually nursed a bit of a crush on the large portrait of Reynaud. What I like about Hoyt's story is that, despite the crush, Beatrice realizes Reynaud is nothing like the man she has created in her mind based on the portrait. There's no immediate "I love him," she falls in love with Reynaud as the story progresses.
For his part, Reynaud is struggling with the return to society and the fact that he has to lay claim to his title. All at the same time that someone's trying to kill him, and he's drawn into helping solve the mystery of who betrayed his regiment. And then there's the distraction of being with Beatrice--a very loving, strong, intelligent, proper English woman. Exactly the sort of woman his French aunt tells him he needs to marry to prove his sanity and cement his claim to his title.
Will Reynaud convince Beatrice to marry him? Is he capable of giving her the love she needs? Or does she have her own reasons to marry him, whether he loves her or not, despite her love-held desire to marry a man deeply in love with her?
Hoyt's heroes and heroines are strong and engaging, and Reynaud and Beatrice are my favorites of this series.
In terms of the series, each book can be read alone. However, you really get much more from the books by reading the entire series in order, and the mystery of which person betrayed the English regiment to the French is revealed in this book.
You can learn more about the series at the author's site here. And Hoyt also writes contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper, and that author site is here.
My overall personal rating of To Desire a Devil is an A-.