Yet another Company of Rogues book in our trip down memory lane….
Major “Hawk” Hawkinvale has reluctantly returned home after ten years of war. He longs for his ancient Sussex home, but his despised father is still alive there. Upon his return, however, he finds matters are even worse. To pursue a family title, Squire Hawkinville has mortgaged Hawkinville Manor to a wealthy industrialist who will soon own it, tear it down, and built a modern villa in its place.
There is one way out. The title his father has won at such cost is Viscount Deveril, and foul “Lord Devil” had died possessed of a fortune. It will go to pay the squire’s debts if Hawk can prove that the inheritor, a trollop who had been prepared to marry Deveril, had played a part in his violent death. His investigations reveal a very complex picture, however, threatening to hurt some of the people he most cares for in the world. And soon one of them is Clarissa Greystone, the Devil’s Heiress.
Our story starts with Major “Hawk” Hawkinvale returning home after 10 years away at war to find his hated father incapacitated by a stroke, the estate coffers nearly emptied by his father’s legal battles to obtain the title of Lord Deveril, and the villagers looking to him to make necessary repairs. When Hawk meets the so-called Devil’s Heiress – Clarissa Greystone- he has a difficult time matching the reserved, plain, Mary Wollstencroft quoting lady with the “scheming chit” his father rants about. In come the Rogues to help solve this puzzle. Hawk finds out that The Rogues had a hand in the somewhat “fishy” death of Lord Deveril and Clarissa’s acquisition of a large fortune. With Clarissa suddenly the target of harm from unknown sources, Hawk brings in Aunt Arabella – Francis’s aunt – to be a companion and chaperone to Clarissa – as well as a sort of a spy.
This book is different from the others in many ways. First of all, Clarissa isn’t portrayed as a beautiful femme fatale as most heroines are. She is described as mousy, plain, and shy but spunky and forthright. She wants to marry someone whom she likes, but is aware that she will attract suitors that want her money more than her person. Although Hawk needs her money, he needs her also! Secondly, this is the only one of the “Company of Rogue” books that heavily depends on the story-lines of previous books. Although I read the books in order, I found it necessary to go back to “An Arranged Marriage” and “An Unwilling Bride” to refresh my memory of those stories to fully understand this one. Thirdly, the “Company of Rogues” were depicted as quite sinister for most of this book, as opposed to the group of helpful friends as they are shown in other books in the series. (Probably accounts for Clarissa’s fear of them)
For lovers of the “Company of Rogues”, this book is full of them! We have appearances by Lucien and Beth, Aunt Arabella, Nicholas and Eleanor, Con and Susan, Van and Maria, Hal and Blanche and a villain common to several books – Therese Bellaire.
This is an excellent read from beginning to end. Hard to put down!
The Devil’s Heiress is available from Amazon