The Devil To Pay, by Stephanie James (aka Jayne Ann Krentz)

>> Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Now that I have a new cache of old Jayne Ann Krentz novels, I can start reading them again without guilt. The first was this weekend, The Devil to Pay, written as Stephanie James.

Emelina Statton is about to break into a breach cottage when Julian Colter and his dog appear out of the night fog and stop her. She is aware that Julian is renting a cottage not far away. Rumours and gossip from the small, sleepy village says he is a gangster hiding out until his 'troubles' cool down. But someone with dubious ties is exactly what Emelina needs. Her brother is being blackmailed and she is there to find some means to put a stop to it before it ruins his career.

Julian has been watching her, and decides he will help her, but for a price. Emelina will do anything to save her brother, including making a pack with the Devil - or a mobster in this case
I really did enjoy this one, in spite of a somewhat arrogant, high-handed hero and a sometimes TSTL heroine: a B+.

This was a very early book, from the mid-80s, but already JAK included Julian's POV, which is kind of the line separating her obnoxious heros and those alpha's but ok ones. The reason I liked Julian was probably his vulnerability. He needs Emmy. He is so desperate for her that he's willing to do anything, BUT, he doesn't turn into a stalker, like some old-school heros did, and completely override the heroine's wishes.

He knows she has the right to refuse (unlike those idiots), but tries to do his best so that she doesn't. His intention is to woo her, but with a plan B in case it doesn't work. He's not above manipulating her, yes, but I never got the impression he thought what Emmy wanted was unimportant. The final scene was the perfect example. Oh, and I think I should note that this is a guy who was betrayed by his ex-wife, who ran away with his best friend (don't they all?). This marked him, but it did not make him hate all women, just made loyalty as a characteristic more important to him.

As for Emmy... *sigh*. She has some TSTL moments, but they don't really have bad consequences. Why did authors feel the need to include such idiocies? She promises to stay inside while a deal goes down and it's not a matter of the hero telling the little woman to stay in while he handles things. No, he's staying under cover too, because the deal is being recorded! And yet that idiot Emmy feels the need to see what happens. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now that I've vented, she was ok apart from that. The same fiercely loyal, cheerful heroine JAK has written so many times.

A couple of short notes: 1) I'd be interested in reading that novel in "new" genre, combining romance and science fiction, that Emmy is writing. Sounds like JAK's best, lol! 2) I adored Xerxes, Julian's dog. He was so very like Julian, tough and fierce looking, but desperate for love and attention.

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