The last of the unmarried Cynster men, Alasdair (Lucifer) Cynster journeys to Devon in southwest England, "unshackled, unwed and unrepentant". Prepared to suffer the pangs of abstinence if that's what it takes to keep his freedom, Lucifer plans on staying with an elderly collector friend and keeping out of trouble. His plan is simple - the reality he finds in the little country village of Colyton is quite different. This becomes immediately evident when Lucifer stumbles over his friend's body! Cynsters do not lose friends lightly and Lucifer rapidly becomes embroiled in the hunt for a killer. A possible witness to the crime is Phyllida Tallent, daughter of the local magistrate, and thorn in Lucifer's side. The pain she causes him quickly transforms into an ache in various parts of his body, most frighteningly his heart.
Intelligent and opinionated, Phyllida has managed her father's home and much of the village for many years and is quite resistant to the idea of handing over control of any part of her life to another. Lucifer's high-handed methods leave her irritated and his sensual kisses leave her breathless. Clearly, Lucifer is going to need all his legendary skills of seduction in order to lure this lady to his bed. The passionate mating dance that takes place between Lucifer and Phyllida contrasts sharply with the more serious threat to their lives that they uncover as they investigate the murder. Yet it is a tribute to Stephanie Laurens' writing skills that neither romance nor mysteries overshadow each other - both are essential components of this charming tale. There are many wonderful secondary characters - there is nowhere like an English village when it comes to eccentric landowners, snooty dowagers and earthy tradesmen. Needing some family assistance, Lucifer writes to Devil, only to find his cousin Demon and bride Felicity on his doorstep soon after. Flick is always ready for an adventure and both she and Demon stand staunchly by Phyllida as matters come to a head and Lucifer carefully sets a trap!
It is quite astonishing that this, the sixth book in the Cynster series, is as fresh and engaging as the first! Each Cynster is different in character, yet the underlying strengths of the family are always present. Each Cynster bride-to-be is an individual unto herself - they share beauty, intelligence and a strong spirit, yet are quite distinct personalities! There is a sense of sadness as the last page of this book is turned - surely this is not goodbye to the Cynsters? Actually, no, there will be more novels written about this family - next in line is the story of the "honorary" Cynster, the Earl of Chillingworth, who foolishly vows never to fall in love at the very end of this book. Fate must be laughing her head off at him while we eagerly await the chance to read about his downfall! Leave a space on your romance shelf for this and other upcoming stories from Stephanie Laurens - her books truly define romance.