Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep by @reginajeffers is a Mystery/Suspense pick #romanticsuspense
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep - Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy
romantic suspense; Regency romance; twins; historical fiction; cozy mystery
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance; Finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Finalist Derby Award for Fiction Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal "angel," who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt's difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother's annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart--and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side? Also look for: The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy
Thinking to celebrate a new beginning, Hunt ordered the meal and a bottle of wine. He held hopes of suitably wooing his beautiful wife to share a proper bed. To Hades with his shoulder injury. Means existed for a man to please a woman, even if he knew a disadvantage, and thankfully, his wife was not indifferent to him. Deep in thoughts of the intimate pleasures awaiting him above stairs, at first he did not hear the anxious call from behind him.
“Malvern! Thank God!” A pair of strong hands caught Hunt by the upper arms to spin him around. “We searched everywhere for you.”
Hunt winced from the pain of the sudden shift in his shoulder joint. “I beg your pardon. Do we hold an acquaintance?”
The stranger’s steel gray eyes studied him. “What game do you practice, Malvern?” He surveyed Hunt’s simple dress before shooting a glance about the empty common room. “There is no one within. Drop the farce, Malvern. Your family is at sixes and sevens with your disappearance.”
Before Hunt could question the stranger regarding what he knew of his family, a third man interrupted them.
“Remmington,” the young man called as he entered the inn, “the horse definitely belongs to—” Then he froze, and Hunt recognized how elation quickly replaced the despair in the man’s expression. “You found him,” he gasped in disbelief before catching Hunt up in a very masculine embrace of joy.
“My arm,” Hunt groaned as the air rushed from his lungs from the pure force of the young man’s hold upon him.
Immediately the fellow released him. “You are injured.” He ran his hand over the makeshift sling Hunt wore. “I told Etta you had to be injured if you were late to arrive at Mama’s party. You are never tardy.”
Hunt readjusted his arm into a more comfortable position. “Evidently,” he said through tight lips as another jolt of pain ran down the length of his arm. “You two recognize me, but I hold no memory of your countenances. Perhaps we should part—”
The younger man meant to protest, but a well-placed restraining hand from the elder of the two stifled the younger’s words. “Mayhap you would care to share with us your name and how you came to be at the White Horse.” The man’s tone spoke of growing understanding.
Hunt frowned. He wished to speak with more confidence; he held the suspicion all was about to change in his life. “My name is William Copley, and my wife and I survived the recent flooding. We came to Crockett by the goodness of a farming couple, who tended us after our escape from the waters.”
“W—w—wife!” the younger man sputtered.
Again the elder shushed his partner. “Is your wife at the White Horse also? I would have the pleasure of an introduction,” he said in a tone, which reminded Hunt of one employed to reason with an obstinate child.
Hunt’s back stiffened. “As I hold no familiar name to offer Mrs. Copley, I possess no intention of disturbing my wife with whatever duplicity you offer. From the cut of your clothes, it is easy to observe we hold little in common, and I do not appreciate being the target of your taunt.”
The elder man continued to act as the pair’s spokesman. The younger one kept shooting glances of disbelief between Hunt and the youth’s partner.
“Certainly, what you say is true.” The gentleman offered Hunt a proper bow. “Despite your lack of proper dress—a habit you are known to employ when traveling alone, you are most assuredly not William Copley.”
“Not Copley?” Hunt murmured.
“No,” the elder man insisted. Hunt watched as he nudged the younger man into a proper bow of respect. “I am Levison Davids, the 17th Earl of Remmington, and this is—” He gestured to his partner. “Lord Harrison McLaughlin.” The man paused dramatically. “Your younger brother.”
Hunt felt the room spin in blackness, and he gripped the side of a chair for support. “It cannot be,” he argued against the obvious. “Please cease this madness. I beg you to take your theatrics elsewhere.”
The younger man—his brother, he corrected mentally, reached to steady Hunt’s stance. “What Remmington speaks is the truth,” the youth said in sympathy. “We have searched for you for two days. When I spotted your horse, Alibi, in the village stables, I rushed to learn more of your health. The duke and duchess are beside themselves with concern.”
Hunt felt the color drain from his face. “The duke and duchess?” he murmured with some effort.
“You are Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, heir to the Duke of Devilfoard,” the Earl of Remmington assured him.
Hunt gave his head a small shake to clear his thinking. “Then who is the woman with whom I shared the previous five days?” He had only to look upon Lord Harrison to recognize the similarity in their features. Hunt did not know why he had not considered the possibility earlier.
Lord Remmington’s frown lines met. “Yours is an excellent question, Malvern. What’s more, other than the woman’s identity, we must determine the lady’s motivation in providing you a false name.”
Harry swore under his breath. “You think this woman meant to entrap Malvern into marriage by compromising herself?” His brother demanded, “Please tell me you did not travel together.”
Hunt’s fist clenched. “Worse. We shared quarters for four nights.”
Remmington leaned closer to speak in private. “Malvern, you must permit Lord Harry and me to address this woman’s motives and determine if she holds specific demands.” He motioned for Harrison to remain by Hunt’s side.
Hunt thought upon the woman above stairs. He had trusted her implicitly. Even now, he wished to pronounce her innocent of mischief, but uncertainty claimed a hold in his heart. “I should lead the way,” he declared as a defense. If Lords Remmington and Harrison practiced a farce, he would not permit them easy access to Elizabeth.
He slowly climbed the steps, the two men shadowing him. Praying someone erred, Hunt released the latch to the room he shared with his wife, and she stood to greet him.
“Your timing is immaculate,” she declared. “I finished the letter to my father.” Yet, her expression of welcome changed when she viewed his turmoil, and then his brother stepped past Hunt, and she paled before she shot a look of recognition first to him and then to his sibling. “Lord—Lord Harrison,” she stammered.
Hunt’s anger arrived. This woman used his head injury to her advantage. She purposely concealed what she knew if him.
“Miss Lovelace.” Harry pronounced the woman’s name in disgust. Obviously, she was someone Hunt should know, but did not recognize. “I would suggest you have some explaining to do.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
On the romance level, Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is a tale of courage and sacrifice and what women went through in order to marry well in Regency England. Yet, the story proves itself to be charming, with interesting and realistic characters. Angel (Angelica) is no pushover, nor is she a damsel in distress. She knows her worth and refuses to settle for less than the love her parents had. The reader will admire her take-charge attitude, her inquisitiveness, and her spirt, as all the pieces finally fall into place and the story’s layers are unfolded for all to view.
“There will be more than enough time to relive each moment of the past few days. A whole lifetime to know your ideal match does exist. He will simply belong to another.”
Without his memory, Angel is Hunt’s rock, his security, and when they eventually make their way to Devilfoard, they must to stick to the story created by Hunt’s best friend, the Earl of Remington to protect Angel’s reputation amongst the partygoers. Yet, it is not long before trouble is on Hunt’s doorstep, and he must get to the bottom of things without knowing anything about himself, his family, or his work except what he has been told.
He wanted to be this woman’s everything–to turn the sun back four and twenty hours and reclaim the anticipation of knowing her intimately. To be her first. Her last. It was a lovely fantasy, one upon which reality would too soon intrude.
However . . .
…he had yet to recognize one servant or family portrait or even the house’s furnishings. He remained a first time guest in his childhood home. The tightness in his chest had nothing to do with his injury and everything to do with his vulnerability.
As a suspense and mystery, one will find the a tightly woven, complex plot and carefully crafted story, which will most assuredly keep the reader guessing, with plenty of red herrings and surprises, some unexpected twists and turns and the revelation of long-hidden family secrets, along with a rivalry between best friends. The unmasking of the true villain will certainly come as a big surprise.
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Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency, historical mysteries, and contemporary novels. Living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a retired English teacher and an often sought after consultant for media literacy and language arts, who spends her “down time” pulling weeds from her flower beds and spoiling her “grand joys.”
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