A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam is the first book in The Rue Alliance series, and it is set in a Regency Era paranormal/fantasy version of London. The main characters are Lady Roselyn Ravenstock and Sir Phillip Jones. Rose is a powerful shapeshifter, a gift inherited from her mother’s lineage, and Phillip is a love from her past and a covert agent of sorts. When he begins investigating a murder that points right to Rose, they fall back into each other’s lives and adventures ensue. The tale was inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty.
I was immediately whisked away by this book. The intrigue begins immediately and I loved the nature of the murder mystery that is at the heart of the plot. I also quickly found myself drawn to the characters, especially Rose. Having suffered an excessive amount of loss in her life, she gave up on living and merely existed for several years. When her only friend is murdered and Phillip re-enters the picture, it is as though the spell is broken and she reawakens to the world.
Part of this reawakening is an acquaintance with the Rue Alliance. The Rue Alliance is a band of shifters with all manner of talents, including Rose’s. Meeting this underground community was by far my favorite part of the book. They are such a lively, loyal, and varied group of people. I can’t wait to read more about them!
The one element that kept this from being a higher rating for me was the occasional overly strong presence of stereotypical gender roles. I know this is a pretty subjective area when it comes to enjoying a story (especially in romance novels where “alphas” and the “man’s man” run rampant), but there were a few gender-related moments that crossed a line into awkward. For example, “He had shown Ben the worst side of himself. His male side.” Huh?
Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and I’m excited to read book two, A Scorching Dilemma. Especially since it tells Daniel Trenton’s story, a fire-starter affectionately known as Cinder Fella 🙂
*** UPDATE ***
Upon finishing this review, I looked up some other works by Vedam and discovered A Beastly Scandal. While not part of the Rue Alliance series, this book takes place in the same setting and with overlapping side characters. Some of its major events are mentioned in A Devilish Slumber. I certainly had no problem enjoying this book never having read the other, but it might be a good idea to start there!