Usually, when I can’t finish reading a book, it’s because I’m too annoyed with the heroine. That wasn’t the case with Devil’s Kiss by Zoe Archer. I actually really liked Zora, it was everything else (the hero, the secondary characters, the writing style) that I couldn’t stand and ultimately the reasons why I couldn’t finish Devil’s Kiss.
James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger – and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure and pleasure with his four closest friends. Which was how Whit found himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey’s smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands – watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind. Zora can’t explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can’t stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts’ desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can’t save Whit, she still has to escape him.
Devil’s Kiss has a very distinct writing style. Archer loved describing what the characters were feeling with metaphors. I personally love metaphors but when she would use two or three to describe one feeling or action (sometimes in the same paragraph), I would get annoyed. A perfect example of this was when Whit was gambling. It is very hard to write about gambling and keep the readers’ interest hooked, because gambling is usually very boring for anyone who isn’t playing. So Archer tried to compensate by using lots of metaphors. At one point she described gambling as, “A kaleidoscope of odds, dazzling and dizzying.”
That by itself would have been fine. Except, Archer did that for two chapters. Again, having just a couple of those metaphors would have been fine. It was the fact that there were so many metaphors that not only annoyed me, it slowed down the plot. There was basically no action to the plot apart from the beginning when the Hellraisers get cursed.
Whit and all of his friends, who called themselves the Hellraisers, seemed like the atypical “bad-boys” of the late 1700s. Sex, drinking and money was all they liked/wanted from life. Each of them did have their own personal horror story as to why/how they ended up that way, but I honestly forgot who had what story because each story was given back-to-back, all from Whit’s point of view.
Like I said before, I really liked Zora. She was a strong, independent heroine, who didn’t believe in magic at first but not only did she quickly accept it, she learned how to wield her own powers and initially escaped Whit. It was shortly after he caught up to her that I gave up on Devil’s Kiss, so I’m not sure what happened later or how Zora grew.
Overall, Devil’s Kiss had some potential to be a great book. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like it lived up to that potential.