Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Review: Teresa Denys’ THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL – More than a bodice ripper, this classic set in 17th century Spain is a Keeper!

This was my second by Denys and it’s another stunningly dramatic story set in 17th century Spain, and a very worthy read. It tells the story of beautiful Juana de Arrelanos, eldest daughter of a successful merchant who betroths her to the mysterious Bartolomé, Duque de Valenzuela to gain a title. But Juana’s heart belongs to her childhood sweetheart, Jaime de Nueva, and she naively hopes to persuade the Duque to let her leave when he learns she is unwilling.

When she arrives at the sprawling edifice that is Castillo Benaventes, she realizes all is not as it should be. She is not greeted by her intended, but rather by his manipulating uncle who assures her all is well, and the scornful mercenary, Felipe Tristan, the Duque's protector. Behind Felipe’s scarred visage are many secrets, among them his attraction to Juana.

A treacherous plot is underway to use Juana to assure an heir for the family no matter her intended, the Duque, is not capable of siring one, for he is an idiot, deformed in body and depraved in soul. When Juana discovers this, she is desperate to get out of the coming marriage, but her attempts are quickly thwarted. In one brutal stroke, Felipe takes away her options, leaving her trapped.

This was Denys’ first book, and it’s amazing. It's a story of redemption and discovery, rich with intrigue and passion. Her writing is superb, her characters well drawn and the plot intricate. The tension remains until the very end. Juana is a courageous young woman whose unwilling response to Felipe reveals she is not the docile daughter others believe her to be. And always Felipe, the strong enigmatic foreign mercenary, scarred in body and soul, is there in the background, pulling the strings. I felt like I was living in Spain, walking alongside Juana as she experienced the horror of the plans laid out for her, all the while dealing with the obstacles in her path and fighting the passion Felipe has awakened in her.

It’s a superbly written page-turner that kept me reading late into the night. Sadly, Teresa Denys died suddenly in an auto accident in the late 80s, and the world of romance was deprived of a great talent. Her only other novel, THE SILVER DEVIL, is another keeper. I highly recommend them both.

I’ve shown you two covers. Though I prefer the one with the couple, you should know the hero has green eyes and long, fiery red hair, not short and blond.

I bought my copy on eBay and, though not cheap, it was worth it. However, both of Denys’ books, now out of print, are available for download on the Internet for those of you with an eReader.

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