The Devil's Mistress

June 1, 2010
Romance, Historical
Desire has never been so dangerous.

Living breath-to-breath beneath the shadow of violence, Italian perfumer and apothecary Allegra Grimaldi was forced to learn the killing arts from the Hand of God—a religious assassin. She has sworn never to use her deadly skills, but now a blackmailer has her by the proverbial throat.

To save her family from an ugly death, she must do the unthinkable. Infiltrate the court of King Henry VIII, poison the heretic Anne Boleyn before she becomes queen—and frame Anne’s bastard brother for the crime. Honest and principled, Sir Joscelin is the perfect pawn.

Allegra is clever, captivating…and her warning to Anne immediately rouses Joscelin’s suspicion. Sworn to protect his sister, and striving for recognition from the powerful father who disdains him, Joscelin has no choice but to put aside his attraction to the mysterious lady and gather evidence to see her burn for witchcraft.

To avert a disaster that will change the face of Europe, this stalwart soldier of incorruptible integrity and the fallen woman who breathes deception must learn to trust each other—and discover the one truth that could save them all.

Product Warnings
This novel is riddled with perilous potions and poisons, Tudor lust and liaisons, Renaissance revelry and revenge, intrigue and assignations, blackmail and betrayal, and one seriously sexy Frenchman.
Laura W -
A review and book summary from All About Romance for: The Devil's Mistress Laura Navarre 2010, Historical Romance (Tudor Era) Samhain, $5.50, 264 pages Grade: B Sensuality: Hot Writing a historical romance set in the Tudor court is a task fraught with peril. Readers who are attracted to the setting will likely know the basics of the story, if not the details, and readers who know a historical era well can be notoriously unforgiving when authors tinker with the details too much. In her debut novel, Laura Navarre rises to the challenge, and does so with aplomb. Allegra Grimaldi learned her trade at a young age. Her father trained her in the art of poisons, and now she lives in England under the dubious care and protection of Don Maximo, a Spanish diplomat. As a cover, Allegra is a perfumer to the ladies of the Tudor court, brewing scents and love potions. Don Maximo is blackmailing Allegra into using her skills as a poisoner, and his target is Anne Boleyn, who threatens Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Allegra has no desire to kill anyone with her poisons, but she is terrified of what Don Maximo might do to her two younger sisters and her father. potions. Don Maximo pushes Allegra to poison Anne Boleyn, but Allegra can’t bring herself to kill. Instead, she plans to drop a small dose of a mild poison in Anne’s wine—just enough to make her ill for a day or two. As Allegra attempts to slip the tainted wine to Anne, she is caught by Joscelin Boleyn, Anne’s half-brother. Though he doesn’t know his sister well, Joscelin is protective of Anne, and the scheme is ruined. Joscelin, however, finds himself attracted to mysterious Allegra, who he sees as an outsider like himself. Though he senses that she’s up to no good, his curiosity is piqued, and he yearns to know more about her. These intrigues are merely the beginning of The Devil’s Mistress. From there, Navarre immerses us in the political gambits, scheming, and deception of the Tudor court. Allegra’s conscience is part of her appeal. She has the ability to commit murder without being caught, but she isn’t willing to do so, even if it would mean freedom for her family. She’s a risk-taker in life and in love, and she’s willing to gamble her own well-being in order to preserve the lives and innocence of her sisters. She seems to have an innate grasp of court politics, and is able to use her wit and intellect to dig herself out of some messy situations. I was skeptical of Joscelin Boleyn, the novel’s very fictional hero, at the outset. In less capable hands, the presence of this invented character in the midst of a very real (and very well-documented) royal court would have been a deal-breaker. By presenting him as an outsider at the Tudor court, as part of the Boleyn family but not part of their inner circle of espionage and deceit, Navarre made me believe that he could have existed. The only minor criticism I have is that the dialogue does get a bit overwrought at times. Navarre is very conscientious about trying to capture the era in every way possible, and the use of old-fashioned colloquialisms is a part of her push for realism. For the most part, the dialogue is swift and witty, and it keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. The love story between Allegra and Joscelin, while enjoyable, often takes a back seat to court politics. I felt that The Devil’s Mistress was the opposite of the stereotypical “wallpaper historical”—it was more of a historical novel with a strong romantic subplot and some steamy love scenes. While you could certainly escape into this book (and I did), readers looking for a mindless fluff read aren’t going to find it here. This is a fine debut, intelligently written, cleverly plotted, and well-researched, and I look forward to further novels of intrigue and romance from Laura Navarre. -- Nanette Donahue
Carrie D -
Laura Navarre has written an intriguing and perilous historical romance in her debut novel The Devil’s Mistress. In every written page you can feel the danger and deception that surrounds both Allegra and Joscelin in their quest to navigate King Henry VIII’s court during one of England’s most tumultuous time periods. I won’t spend time in this review to briefly summarize the story as I sometimes do because the plot has many twists and turns and the summary from the publisher sums it up rather well without giving too much away. When reading the novel I couldn’t help but picture THE TUDORS. The book had the same sort of riveting intensity that makes the television series so addictive, and much like the TV series The Devil’s Mistress is so much more than a just a love story; and refreshingly it doesn’t focus mainly around Henry or his many wives. In Laura Navarre’s Tudor world you understand and feel the fear, uncertainty…the perils and even the life taking risks that each character is motivated by as they navigate the Tudor court. In some respects I think this book would have worked better strictly as historical fiction instead of historical romance because I felt that the romance between Joscelin and Allegra wasn’t as important or crucial to the story as the devious plots and manipulations they found themselves a part of. For me too much of the story revolved around, and happened outside of their time together to make their love story as convincing as the rest of the book. There is no doubt that this author does intrigue well, and while the hero and the heroine expressed their love in both words as well as deeds, emotionally their love story didn’t have the same intensity I felt the rest of the story had. As a result it felt as if they were more like allies who were attracted to each other and could form a mutually beneficial partnership, than two people who were on opposing sides and should have been enemies yet found love instead. While the love story in The Devil’s Mistress is the weakest aspect of the story, the novel as a whole is far from weak. Yet, if you are a true romance reader at heart and are seeking a romance set in the Tudor court you might be just a little disappointed that the love part of this love story doesn’t play as important a role as other aspects of the plot. However, if you are a fan of historical fiction a la Phillipa Gregory than I think you will find a lot to love in The Devil’s Mistress. Ratings: Overall: 4.0 stars Sensuality level: 2.5 stars this review was written for Seductive Musings