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Book Review of Handsome Devil (Zebra Historical Romance)

Handsome Devil (Zebra Historical Romance)
Handsome Devil (Zebra Historical Romance)
Author: Melanie George
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
scoutmomskf avatar reviewed on + 1994 more book reviews

Fun book, with a tortured hero and a firebrand heroine. Sheridan "Danny" Delaney is an Irish girl living in Boston with her family. Danny is rather high-spirited and is a magnet for trouble. Her latest antics have her family at their wits' end, and her older sisters furious. They're convinced that she's responsible for their inability to find husbands. The only thing Danny can do is try to talk her parents into letting her visit her friend Jules in England. It isn't easy, as her parents have hard feelings toward the English after being thrown off their land in Ireland. But succeed she does - as long as she takes her aunt and uncle along as chaperones.

Jules has just returned to England from her honeymoon, married to her cousin Nicholas's best friend. When she finds out that Danny is coming to visit, she informs Nicholas that she and her guests will be staying with him, as her terror of a mother-in-law has the London house. Nicholas isn't looking forward to having to curtail his bachelor ways for his cousin and her undoubtedly prim and stiff-necked Boston socialite friend. Though he doesn't understand why Jules laughs every time he makes that complaint.

The initial meeting between Nicholas and Danny is funny, emotional, and steamy. Nicholas is in the docks area, extremely intoxicated, and resisting the efforts of his coachman to get him home, when he spots a beautiful woman dancing a jig on the deck of a ship. He's immediately fascinated by the passion he sees in her. A short time later he rescues her from an inebriated sailor's advances (though not in the usual manner). I enjoyed their banter as he works to charm her and she sees through it. But Danny feels an immediate connection to him and gives in to the passion that flares between them. When she disappears before he awakens, Nicholas is angry and hurt, not knowing she left to try to save her drunk and belligerent uncle from the local law. Once again, trouble has found Danny, and it's up to Nicholas to rescue her.

Unfortunately, Nicholas has some pretty deep-seated trust issues when it comes to women, thanks to a faithless mother and the effect she had on his father. Those trust issues come roaring to the surface in both a heartbreaking and funny scene at the Southwark jail. Nicholas's accusations and attitude were unfounded, vicious, and cruel, but Danny doesn't sit back and accept it. I loved seeing her stand up for herself and gives as good as she gets. By the time she is settled at his house, both of them are wound up tight, and the sparks are flying. Nicholas has decided that it's time for him to settle down, and he has settled on a prim and proper London miss, who fits his requirements. Unfortunately for him, he can't keep Danny out of his mind. But every time they are together, he manages to put his foot in his mouth and gets her riled up again. He wants her, but she should be off limits, though he can't convince his body of that fact. Danny is certain that she's in love with him, that their souls are entwined for all time. His hot and cold attitude is frustrating to her since she knows that they belong together. She has her own insecurities, thanks to her Irish heritage, and believes that her Irishness is what is keeping them apart. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Nicholas was tortured by his feelings for her, as he brought it on himself because of the way he treated her.

Though Danny's actions often seemed a bit childish and over-the-top to me, it was still great fun to see the effect they had on Nicholas. But there were also some very sweet moments between them. The scene in the stables when she helped deliver the foal brought them closer together. I liked seeing the way that Danny was able to get Nicholas to open up some about his mother, and how that helped her to understand him a little. I loved how Nicholas finally realized his feelings for her. His expression of those feelings to himself was awesome: "Whether asleep or awake, Sheridan's face haunted him. When she hurt, he hurt. When she was happy, he was happy. When she was angry, he...ducked." But those demons of his wouldn't let him tell her his feelings, as he didn't know how she felt. The depth of his feelings scared him, especially considering his family history. He was also quick to jump to conclusions. He does that one too many times, and his jealousy causes him to say some truly mean and hurtful things. I hurt for Danny as her hopes for her future die a painful death. The depth of the pain that both suffered was heartbreaking, and I wasn't sure how they would get through it. Even in her pain, Danny still loved him enough to try to ensure that what had happened didn't come between Jules and Nicholas. I loved the advice that Nicholas got from Ho Sing, that opened his eyes. The ending was exciting and intense. I loved seeing Nicholas finally let go of the pain of his past so that he could accept the love that would fill his future.

The secondary characters were also great. Jules was another strong woman. I liked her obvious love for her cousin Nicholas. It was clear that she knew him very well and saw beneath the rakish Sinclair reputation. She could also see that Nicholas and Danny were perfect for each other and was determined to bring them together. I also liked Danny's aunt Aggie and uncle Finn. Aggie was a trip with her melodramatic claims of imminent death, but she was there for Danny when she was needed. Finn was a riot. He came across as a few bricks short of a load with his over-the-top dramatics, but there were also times that he didn't seem so crazy after all. The ancient butler, Emery, was a riot with his misunderstandings of what people said to him. Ho Sing was terrific at showing Nicholas when he was being an idiot.

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