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03 June 2006

The Devil's Waltz (2006)

By Anne Stuart

From the back flap: "Christian Montcalm was a practical man, if a destitute scoundrel, but his plan to bed and wed the delectable Miss Hetty Chipple would take care of that sticky wicket. However, there was a most intriguing obstacle to his success. Annelise Kempton desired nothing more than to come between this despicable rogue and the fortune (and virtue) of her young charge. Certainly, Annelise understood the desperation that comes from hard times, but Montcalm would fail - she would personally see to it. All that stood in her way was a man whose rakish charm could tempt a saint to sin, or consign a confirmed spinster to sleepless nights of longing... to give the devil his due."

While this was not the most originally or engaging of my historical romance catalogue, I was entertained by this, my first Anne Stuart novel. I expected more, however. The finale, in particular, was disappointing in that I did not realize I had reached the action climax until I turned the page and began to read the Epilogue (which requisite happily married couple and their newly spawned offspring). Soldiers arrived... and that was it. Okay.

I was frustrated, too, by Stuart's repetitive and increasingly irritating descriptions of her two main characters. I catch on quickly - I'm actually quite bright, you know. So when I was told for the 19th time that Annelise had lovely gray eyes and was well past marriageable age and that Christian was a devilish rake... I yawned. Couldn't be helped.

The seduction scene was oddly unsentimental (the first such I've encountered that was not an overt rape - and you'll have to trust me that such things do exist within some romances!), but I was amused by both parties' rather straight-forward "let's this virginity thing over with" attitude. And - sappy, gullible chit that I am - I found myself inexplicably near tears at one or two places. Idiot X-chromosomes. So I was entertained, yes, but I will not be seeking out a second try for Anne Stuart until I clear my TBR pile... so maybe never. Sigh.

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