Six notorious cousins, known to the ton as the Bar Cynster, have cut a swath through the ballrooms of London. Yet one by one, each has fallen in love and married the woman of his heart, until only one of them is left unclaimed...the most rakish of Stephanie Laurens' captivating clan...and he's not about to go easily. Alasdair Cynster -- known to his intimates as Lucifer -- decides to rusticate in the country before the matchmaking skills of London's mamas become firmly focused on him, the last unwed Cynster. But an escape to Devon leads him straight to his destiny in the irresistible form of Phyllida Tallent, a willful, independent beauty of means who brings all his masterful Cynster instincts rioting to the fore. Lucifer tries to deny the desire Phyllida evokes -- acting on it will land him in a parson's mousetrap, one place he's sworn never to go. But destiny intervenes, leaving him to face the greatest Cynster challenge -- wooing a reluctant bride.
In the sixth installment of Laurens's series of Regency-set romances involving the devilish men of the Cynster family (A Secret Love, etc.), the familiar "curse" that causes the Cynster men to fall in love with and marry independent women comes into play once again. Alasdair Reginald Cynster, widely known as Lucifer, arrives at the country home of his mentor, Horatio Welham, only to discover he's been murdered. Knocked unconscious himself, the last thing Lucifer feels before he blacks out is a woman's touch. When he awakens, he is at the family home of Phyllida Tallent, his angel of mercy. Although Phyllida and Lucifer join forces to solve Horatio's murder, Phyllida conceals a secret that she is unwilling to reveal despite a growing attraction to her handsome new companion. As for Lucifer, once he's recovered from his initial distaste at being in love, he sets about wooing Phyllida, and only her determination to remain independent keeps them apart. Phyllida and Lucifer are rich, engaging characters, and Laurens's writing shines. Loyal fans of the series will also be pleased to note that Devil and Demon, protagonists from the previous novels, make an appearance as well. (Feb. 6) Forecast: Laurens is quickly building a name with this exceptional series, and her growing number of fans will eagerly pluck this one off the shelves. With her skill at depicting strong female leads, she also is likely to attract a number of contemporary romance readers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2001
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Excerpt from All about Love by Stephanie Laurens
It didn't even sound comfortable.
Alasdair Reginald Cynster, widely known, with good reason, as Lucifer, pushed the word from his mind with a disgusted snort and concentrated on turning his pair of highbred blacks down a narrow lane. The lane led south, toward the coast; Colyton, his destination, lay along it.
Around him, early summer clasped the countryside in a benevolent embrace. Breezes rippled the corn; swallows rode the currents high above, black darts against the blue sky. Thick hedges bordered the lane; from the box seat of his curricle, Lucifer could only just see over them. Not that there was anything to see in this quiet rural backwater.
That left him with his thoughts. Holding the blacks to a slow but steady pace along the winding lane, he considered the unwelcome proposition of having to survive without the type of feminine company to which he was accustomed. It wasn't a pleasant prospect, but he'd rather suffer that torture than risk succumbing to the Cynster curse.
It wasn't a curse to be trifled with -- it had already claimed five of his nearest male relatives, all the other members of the notorious group that had, for so many years, lorded it over the ton. The Bar Cynster had cut swaths through the ranks of London's ladies, leaving them languishing, exhausted in their wake. They'd been daring, devilish, invincible -- until, one by one, the curse had caught them. Now he was the last one free -- unshackled, unwed, and unrepentant. He had nothing against marriage per se, but the unfortunate fact -- the crux of the curse -- was that Cynsters did not simply marry. They married ladies they loved.
The very concept made him shudder. Its implied vulnerability was something he would never willingly accept.