Historical Romance Review: Devil’s Desire by Laurie McBain

devil's desire laurie mcbain
Devil’s Desire, Laurie McBain, Avon, 1975, Tom Hall cover art

“I would not regret putting a hole in your arrogant chest, only it would be deflected when it hit that piece of rock you call a heart.


2 1/2 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Plot

For me, Devil’s Desire was an ok Regency romance written by Laurie McBain. The bland heroine Elysia, is on the run from bland, evil enemies. It’s alright, but nothing special. From the writing, you can tell it’s a “first book.”

The back blurb says Devil’s Desire is: “[A] rousing, unforgettable saga that sweeps across the valleys and peaks of human destiny, the stormy alliance of beautiful young and plumbs the depths of raw human emotion — lust, jealousy, and hate… Out of the turbulence of their clashing wills comes one of the greatest love stories ever written, as their twin passions mingle at last, in a rippling tide of liquid fire!” 

How I wish.

The read was rather ordinary and predictable, however, it was not terrible. Lots of clichés, including the rakish hero, Lord Alex Trevegne (who’s really not that much of a rake), an evil ex-mistress, and a Cinderella heroine, Lady Elysia Demarice, with emerald-green eyes and red-gold hair, who’s the most beautiful lady in all of England, and pure as the driven snow. (Hey, clichés in a review are appropriate for a book riddled with them!) Lady Elysia is on the run from greedy relatives who would steal her fortune. Marriage to Lord Trevegne would offer protection, but it will come at a price for her.

Final Analysis of Devil’s Desire

I don’t know how Laurie McBain ever got categorized as a bodice ripper author because she’s not. Maybe it’s that since she was one of the original Avon ladies from the 1970s, that label stuck with her. Yes, some of her books were epic in scope, spanning years and/or continents, although here in Devil’s Desire). However, there was never forced seduction by the hero, her heroines were virginal, and bodices were rarely if ever, ripped. Regardless, she deserves recognition as one of the first “old-school” romance pioneers, as her books influenced many authors and thrilled millions of readers..

Legend has it McBain co-wrote her novels with her father. It sounds kind of weird to be writing romance novels with your dad, but hey, that’s just me. After he passed away, she stopped publishing books.

Devil’s Desire was not memorable. Not bad, but so-so. I much preferred her second novel, Moonstruck Madness. It was more action-packed, with a heroine who’s quite colorful and courageous and a truly rakish hero.

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