"Historical romance at its best in this intriguing, passionate novel full of political betrayal."
Reviewed by Mandy Burns
Posted May 11, 2010
Allegra Grimaldi was trained in the arts of killing because
of her turbulent past. Now she needs to make sure she is
ready for her future by becoming a dangerous assassin.
Unfortunately, the church believes Allegra's husband was
murdered by her hand, so she is imprisoned and held for
questioning. While awaiting her fate, Allegra receives an
opportunity she is unable to turn down. To ensure the
safety of Allegra's family, she makes a deal with the devil
himself, Don Maximo Montoya, to serve as his personal
mercenary and alleged mistress. Allegra's mission is to
murder Anne Boleyn before Anne takes the thrown as the new
Queen of England. Allegra's careful planning doesn't
include Joscelin Boleyn, who has sworn to protect Anne at
Since the age of 18, Sir Joscelin Boleyn's goal has been to
make the Boleyn family proud. Joscelin's sister, Anne, has
caught the eye of King Henry, creating a political
upheaval. While the king is petitioning the church for a
divorce from Queen Katherine, the Boleyn's are securing
their place at court. Joscelin is a soldier at heart, yet
fully aware that all of the frivolous intrigue is a tedious
but necessary evil to gain the king's favor. The moment
Allegra Grimaldi floats by Joscelin during a dance, he is
captivated by her beauty. But he becomes instantly
suspicious of Allegra's interest in his sister Anne.
Joscelin's infatuation with the Devil's Mistress may get
him killed, but regardless of Allegra's warnings, Joscelin
is compelled to learn the truth behind her secrets.
THE DEVIL'S MISTRESS is intriguing, passionate, and full of
political betrayal. Historical romance at its best. Bravo!
Living breath-to-breath beneath the shadow of violence,
Italian perfumer and apothecary Allegra Grimaldi was forced
to learn the killing arts from the Hand of Godâ€”a religious
assassin. She has sworn never to use her deadly skills, but
now a blackmailer has her by the proverbial throat.
To save her family from an ugly death, she must do the
unthinkable. Infiltrate the court of King Henry VIII,
poison the heretic Anne Boleyn before she becomes queenâ€”and
frame Anneâ€™s bastard brother for the crime. Honest and
principled, Sir Joscelin is the perfect pawn.
Allegra is clever, captivatingâ€¦and her warning to Anne
immediately rouses Joscelinâ€™s suspicion. Sworn to protect
his sister, and striving for recognition from the powerful
father who disdains him, Joscelin has no choice but to put
aside his attraction to the mysterious lady and gather
evidence to see her burn for witchcraft.
To avert a disaster that will change the face of Europe,
this stalwart soldier of incorruptible integrity and the
fallen woman who breathes deception must learn to trust
each otherâ€”and discover the one truth that could save them
she offered the goblet to Anne Boleyn, Allegra glimpsed a
the edge of her vision: a large man in a russet doublet
cursing as he
shoved through the crowd. Her trained mind was scrambling
for a defense
before his hand locked around her wrist, halting the cup a
Mistress Anneâ€™s fingers.
Allegra pivoted toward him, ready words springing to her
her eyes locked with his, and her world tilted on its
eyes spat fire at herâ€”green shot with topazâ€”piercing
through a lifetime
of cunning and artifice to reveal her secrets. Alone of the
swirling through the banquet hall, this man wore no mask.
tanned features were open, square-jawed, handsome in the
of an outdoor man. Creases fanned out from his eyes, as
though he smiled
easilyâ€”though he was hardly smiling now.
one is no raw stripling, easy to mislead. Corpus Christi,
can he suspect
blazed in his beard and hair, the burnished hue of old
copper. Yet his
features werenâ€™t arranged with a courtierâ€™s careful
this one burned with passion, like a form of fire.
love her, only see his chest and shoulders, straining the
cloth of his
doublet! A fighting man for certain, fueled by suspicionâ€”
was a stranger, but she felt sheâ€™d always known him.
him speared like an arrow through her defenses and pierced
Maria!" she heard herself say foolishly. "Can it be
I merely dream of a man like youâ€¦a man with eyes of fire,
steadfast as steel? Or did my soul know yours in some past
man who would save me, protect me from myself and all my
that was sheer folly. No man was ever to be trustedâ€”no more
could be trusted herself.
he said harshly. "My sister takes wine from her servantâ€™s
was a new development! Mistress Anne herself looked
surprised to hear
it. But the words struck Allegra like a dash of icy water,
and her scattered
Deliberately, she released
the goblet. It slipped from her fingers to roll on the
floor. The bitter
juice of bryony and wine spread across the flagstones in a
If her target had swallowed even a mouthful, she would have
nausea and fluxâ€¦but not death.
For it was no nightshade Allegra
had poured in the ladyâ€™s cup. Sheâ€™d merely poured a
but hardly fatalâ€”a caution against Spanish malice. Still,
not save Allegra if her bearing roused suspicion now. They
sheâ€™d tried to kill the lady and bungled it.
do beg your pardon. I sought only to assist Mistress Anne.
me, my lord."
she knew well enough he was no lord. The cut of his cloth
was too sober,
his hand too callused where he gripped her wrist. His
plain dull steel, its hilt wrapped with leather and stained
But she spied his sole adornmentâ€”the silver B that
from a cord at his throat. And all at once, she knew
Boleyn, is it?" Pinning a bright smile to her lips, she
Mistress Anneâ€”who was gaping at the strange tableau, as
they all were.
Any hope for subterfuge this night was shattered beyond
Anne Boleyn had not risen on the strength of charm and
A well-honed intellect lurked behind those black eyes,
framed to advantage
in a mask flashing with brilliants. In an instant she
back her head with a graceful laugh.
he claims, though I for one can scarcely comprehend it. My
Boleynâ€”and a barefooted farm girl? â€™Tis hardly a connection
scramble to embrace."
spasm of anger knotted the newcomerâ€™s jaw as he clenched
over a sharp retort. But he kept his countenance, no less
his upstart sister. Allegra felt an unwilling pang of
sympathy for this
Boleyn maleâ€”even while he gripped her wrist and stared as
eyes would burn her.
no volley of heated words fired off in your motherâ€™s
Anne lifted an elegant brow. "Why, Joscelin, I profess
Did you learn the art of discretion from the French?"
it," the man gritted, with iron restraint. "Itâ€™s my sworn
to protect you, sister. I have only your welfare at heart,
sorry you do not care for it."
that case, you are overzealous. Be assured, brother,
well able to advance my own interests at this court."
herself to calm, Allegra found the hovering servant gaping
at the spectacle.
Her discarded cup dangled in his grip. "You there!" She
the easy command of a countess. "Wine for our Queen of
find a clean goblet, one that hasnâ€™t been rolling on the
lad scrambled to obey. Mistress Anne accepted the offering
lifting her eyes to Heaven as if to say, "There, do you see
Allegra knew the Boleyn male had not forgotten the other
cup, now borne
away by the slow-witted servant, or the pool of wine at her
turned her wrist in his grip and tugged lightly, but he
confinement she could have broken, but not without
revealing more of
herself than she wished.
she merely arched her brows. "My lord, you are bruising my
her relief, he released her at once, though the imprint of
reasons she could not pin down, his gaze unsettled her. She
in those uncanny eyesâ€”forest green shot with amber, clear
as an angelâ€™s
conscienceâ€”looking straight through her, as though he could
one else. He filled the space beside her, broad chest and
narrowing to a horsemanâ€™s lean hips.
gaze skimmed his belted sword, the corded sinew of legs
hose, his well-worn boots braced apart. But she flinched
from the leather
codpiece bulging between his thighs.
men were dangerous, but this one vibrated with impulse
barely held in
check, like a stallion half-broken to the saddle. For the
must coax him to the bit.
Grimaldi, I am told?" His voice rumbled from that cavernous
husky with a Frenchmanâ€™s accent.
I am unmasked." Who the Devil was he? Sheâ€™d counted on
to disguise her. For this night, Anne Boleyn had eluded
fear you have the advantage of me?" She dipped into
I doubt that," he murmured, his eyes never leaving her. A
rippled through her. "Sir Joscelin Henri Boleyn, at my
I doubt that, my proud monsieur. If you serve your
will never serve Spain.
she inclined her head, playing for time. Sir Joscelin must
be some indigent
bastard, newly come to court. Had he been there long,
not have failed to notice a man of his size andâ€¦physical
his name away for later scrutiny, she glanced at Mistress
the lady turned aside to quip with her courtiers.
appears Iâ€™ve interrupted a family reunion." Allegra seized
to end this disastrous encounter. "Iâ€™ll bid you
she spoke his name, his eyes deepened to molten gold.
reunion?" A sardonic smile tugged at his lips. "I assure
sister welcomes the interruption. Sheâ€™s full weary of
she must be better guarded."
the musicians slid into the steady thrum of a
Joscelin Boleyn claimed her hand. A fresh tremor of alarm
had never welcomed a manâ€™s touchâ€”her husband had cured her
of that. Yet now a flicker of heat danced over her skin,
the December chill. Bracing as his distinctive fragranceâ€”
pine of outdoors, cut by the sharp tang of citrus.
you wish to ingratiate yourself with my sister, sheâ€™s
be spared my presence. Believe me." His eyes challenged herâ€”
he knew she didnâ€™t give a damn for Boleyn favor. "I would
with you, signoraâ€¦and youâ€™re a compelling
So he must have been watching,
even before sheâ€™d approached his sister. Every instinct she
fear I cannot remain, sirâ€”"
fingers tightened, and a spear of unease lanced through
her. He spoke
softly, so only she could hear. "Either we speak privately,
Grimaldi, or we speak hereâ€¦among these others."
tightened her chest, the sense of certain danger bumping up
an odd elation. Somehow, through no device she could
determine, he suspected
Yielding to expedience and
an unnerving sense of fate, she lowered her lashes. "Very
Joscelin. One dance, as you insist upon it."
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