Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn
Length: Full Length (394 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia
A desperate mother falls in love with the spymaster she’s forced to betray.
Spymaster Sebastian Danvers, Lord Somerton, has spent the last decade protecting England’s shores against a French invasion. Known for his cold logic and ability to sacrifice anything for the greater good, few can outwit him and even fewer dare challenge him. Until now.
After being exiled to his country estate, Sebastian is surprised when his beautiful, no-nonsense neighbor turns her seductive wiles on him. But years of intrigue have left him wondering why a respectable widow would risk scandal for a few nights in his bed. Sebastian takes his time unraveling the widow’s secrets, for he quickly realizes she might be the one sacrifice he is unwilling to make.
Living a quiet existence at Winter’s Hollow, Catherine Ashcroft spends her days doing little more than caring for her precocious six-year-old daughter and negotiating her neighbors’ various complaints against their absentee landowner, the enigmatic Earl of Somerton. But, all her boredom comes to a searing halt after learning her newly returned neighbor might have had something to do with her husband’s murder.
Catherine’s orderly existence soon upends and she now finds herself in a desperate bid to save her daughter’s life. But she must betray the earl to do so, even though she no longer suspects him of foul play. Catherine succumbs to the earl’s passionate kisses and recognizes the same loneliness she has felt for years lurking in his hard, crystalline eyes. As the earl’s enemies close in, will Catherine be able to save both her beloved daughter and the handsome spy who has stolen her heart?
Spymaster Sebastian Danvers’ life is not his own. Catherine Ashcroft’s life is too much her own.
Sebastian Danvers, Earl of Somerton, left his much-loved home, Bellamere Park, to head up Nexus a secret group of spies that work unceasingly to protect England from its enemies. His endurance, intellect, and long-held beliefs have been tested to the limit. On leave as per his superior’s request, Sebastian returns to Bellamere Park to find the steward he hired sight unseen has been unresponsive to the tenants needs. Trying to rectify the situation and trying to come to terms with an order from the office of his superior has Sebastian on edge—he is not sure he can make himself obey the order. All these things plus the guilt he feels about the death of Jeffrey Ashcroft gives him lots of sleepless nights—not to mention the overwhelming attraction he feels toward Ashcroft’s widow.
Catherine Ashcroft holds strong to her mother’s advise to “draw strength from your fear then vanquish it”. Making a good life for her daughter Sophie is Catherine’s number one priority. She has been without a husband except for short, few-and-far-between visits for four years, so his being dead does not change her life very much. She is respected and trusted by the people of the community. She is an advocate for the tenants of Bellamere Park since the steward there seems less and less concerned with seeing to the tenants needs.
The intelligent, lively seven-year-old Sophie is like a ray of sunshine sparkling on the morning dew. She brightens everyone’s life. It is horrifying to think the evil antagonists would harm her to get what they want.
Cochran and Silas, evil personified, slither in and out of Catherine’s life compelling her to go to whatever lengths necessary in an effort to get them what they want. The side story that involves these two evil men just adds to their sins. These two characters stir up dark emotions.
As both Sebastian and Catherine try to cope with their lives that are in chaos, their attraction to each other grows. Their relationship that brings sensational satisfaction but also incredible guilt for each of them makes intense, page-turning reading. The love scenes are breathtakingly beautiful and the inner turmoil of these two complex characters plus the ever-lurking danger keep the reader’s senses and emotions on full alert.
The side stories like those of Sebastian’s wards and Meghan McCarthy add depth to Checkmate, My Lord. They help augment the development of the characters so the reader gets to see what makes them tick.
Tracey Devlyn’s writing style is compelling and powerful. She taps into the emotions and senses of the reader as she reveals the dark side of human nature as well as the giving, honest, and loving side that overrides the darkness.
Checkmate, My Lord is an intense love story that offers redemption to the hero and heroine and gives them a happy-ever-after that the reader can rejoice in.