“Devil’s Grace” by Bath author Karen Dean Benson (Satin Romance, $15.95) is a compelling historical romance that’s subtitled “Renn Arelia’s Story.” Benson is a member of East Lansing’s MSUCC Creative Writing
It’s an intriguing debut novel, the first in her “Ladies of Mischief” series, set in the late 1700’s in England and Spain.
The well-designed 290-page trade paperback showcases eighteen-year-old, beautiful Renn Arelia Sheridan, who’s orphaned when her parents tragically drown in a carriage accident.
She enjoys teaching young children, but her new guardians, a duke and duchess, have other ideas. They tell her that her parents, who ran prosperous horse-breeding stables, left her nothing.
The pair have searched Renn’s room and the entire manor, looking for a valuable emerald locket. They put the location up for sale and dismiss the staff, forcing Renn to go with them to the ancestral Chippenham estate in London.
They have other devious plans for her, including an arranged marriage to a wealthy, obnoxious French Marquis.
When strong-willed Renn rebuffs the betrothal, she gets into real trouble; she quickly makes her escape into the dark night.
She’s almost run over by a carriage and is picked up by handsome Sebastian Navarre, Spanish Captain of “The Wind Devil”.
Renn is soon aboard his ship, wanting to dropped-off at Gravesend, where she plans to teach in an orphanage.
An unexpected romance occurs, the intrigue never stops and the swiftly-paced book soon becomes impossible to put down.
Benson’s terrific tale is full of well-developed characters, carefully-researched locales and settings, believable dialogue, dangerous threats and a brooding air of tension.
Her second volume in the series “Mission Song - Chenoa’s Story” (Satin Romance, $16.95) is a stand-alone novel that’s set in the 1830’s.
It follows the journey of a young woman who escapes the suffocating restrictions of a Boston convent, returning to Carmel, Alta California, where she was born.
As in Benson’s first book, there are many family secrets, unusual relationships, thwarted romance and violence; a nasty, vengeful character with evil intentions must be stopped.
“Mulberry Bend – Aisling’s Story”, the third entry in the series, set in the 1860’s, has numerous surprises as well; it’s scheduled for release later this summer.
More information is available at www.karendeanbenson.com.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed books by Michigan authors and crime novels regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on July 10, 2016.