Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long

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She might look like an angel…

The moment orphaned American heiress Titania “Tansy” Danforth arrives on English shores she cuts a swath through Sussex, enslaving hearts and stealing beaux. She knows she’s destined for a spectacular titled marriage—but the only man who fascinates her couldn’t be more infamous…or less interested.

…but it takes a devil to know one…

A hardened veteran of war, inveterate rogue Ian Eversea keeps women enthralled, his heart guarded and his options open: why should he succumb to the shackles of marriage when devastating good looks and Eversea charm make seduction so easy?

…and Heaven has never been hotter.

When Ian is forced to call her on her game, he never dreams the unmasked Tansy—vulnerable, brave, achingly sensual—will tempt him beyond endurance. And fight as he will, this notorious bachelor who stood down enemies on a battlefield might finally surrender his heart…and be brought to his knees by love.

Rating: B

I haven’t read all the books in this series (so far) but I really enjoyed the one before this (It Happened One Midnight) and gave it an A-.

I was looking forward to a similar experience with Between the Devil and Ian Eversea, but unfortunately, I came away from it feeling a little disappointed.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book – I did. There is plenty of humour in the exchanges between the hero and heroine and between the hero and his numerous siblings, the principals are very attractive characters; it’s sexy and sweet and romantic, and all the secondary characters (who have presumably already featured in their own stories) are well drawn.

Tansy is an interesting and complex heroine, and I was impressed with the way Ms Long gradually peeled away the layers of her personality to reveal the truth of the emotionally bruised young woman beneath the shallow, flirtatious outer shell.

I was less convinced by Ian, however. He’s handsome, sexy and tortured by memories of his experiences in the war, but he wasn’t as well developed a character as Tansy, and isn’t one of those heroes that’s going to stick in my mind in the way some of them do.

I think that part of the reason for my disappointment with this book may be because I felt almost as though I had read two books that had been sandwiched together around the half-way point. For the first part of the book, Ian is very wary of Tansy – wary to the point of dislike – because he can see all too well what she’s up to, and Tansy, while she is absolutely knocked flat by Ian’s gorgeousness, is aware of his distrust of her. So they spend the first part of the story watching and circling each other and when they do meet, they are far from pleasant.

When things change, they change abruptly. The sudden détente comes as the result of a shared concern for a missing girl (who, luckily, is soon found unharmed) and after that, they begin to open up to each other and Ian finds himself telling Tansy things he’s never told anyone else and vice versa. While I was pleased that Ian and Tansy were at last warming up to each other, it felt almost as though the book had done a sudden handbrake turn and set off along a side-turning with little or no warning – hence what I said before about feeling as though two different books had been sandwiched together.

The pair certainly have had a difficult time of it, and I did enjoy the parallels Ms Long drew between their experiences and their reactions to them. I liked the fact that they were both honest enough with themselves to admit that some of the things they had seen in the other’s disposition also applied to them.

“I think you come at everyone before they can come after you, Tansy. You’re afraid to be – “ He stopped abruptly.
Vulnerable, she comnpleted silently in her head, astonished. Certain that’s what he meant.

And then later, there’s a point at which Ian realises that what Tansy had to deal with following the death of her parents and brother wasn’t too different to what he had to face when returning from war.

“And for quite some time it has felt like… I’ve been to school and learned everything there is to learn, and nothing has the power to surprise me anymore. Or scare me.”
[…]
He remembered returning… it was as if he’d used up every emotion he ever had, because he’d felt nearly everything there was to feel at such a pitch for so long that ordinary life felt rather flat and muted and painfully slow. He’d been willing to do nearly anything to feel something. And to forget.”

Both characters were likeable and almost refreshingly straightforward – inwardly. Of course, outwardly, they were just presenting a façade to the world – their coping mechanism – but the author got into both their heads sufficiently for the reader to know that there was much more to Tansy than a man-eating husband-hunter, and to Ian than an inveterate womaniser.

The ending felt rather rushed, too, and the resolution was just a little too convenient. I suppose one could argue that Ian’s actions speak to the depth of his feelings for Tansy, but I thought it was just a little too perfect.

Overall, I did like the book and will certainly be reading the next in the series – and also hope to find the time to read the earlier books I haven’t got around to yet. The writing and characterisation are excellent, I like Ms Long’s way with the humour and I think she’s built up a really superb set of familial relationships between her characters. Even though I’m not up to date with the series, I know that fans are eagerly awaiting Olivia and Lyon’s story (which I believe will be the next book but one), so I think it’s safe to say that there’s a bit of a shocker in store at the end of this one for everyone who’s waiting for the big reunion!

I have to confess that the cover model looks rather more mature than I imagine Tansy to be. Also – does anyone else think she looks like Kiri te Kanawa? I did a double-take the first time I saw it!

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