Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
“But this kiss, with this woman…he couldn’t get enough.”
One of my favorite parts of being a newer romance blogger is being introduced to new authors…to me. Morgan James is one of those authors. She reached out to me through my social media accounts, introducing herself and telling me a bit about her new book, The Devil You Know. From the outset, I was intrigued, as this book is equal parts romance and suspense with a little bit of psychology thrown into the mix. There is something engaging about reading a book that leaves you guessing about the villain of the story, and Morgan James’s book does just that.
While I love reading new authors, I have read enough of them to know that it can be a bit of chance. Will I like the writer’s style? Will the story be predictable? What is this author offering that other authors aren’t? As I was reading James’s The Devil You Know, I was initially struck by her style and syntax. I’m a word lover. This may sound strange, but I need the words to flow melodically over the page, or I struggle with a book. And this is exactly what it’s like reading James’s words. I didn’t struggle. Through her words, the story moves easily along, building in intensity as the story progresses. Her images and the pacing of her story keep the reader guessing until the reveal of the book’s secret. I picked up the book in the morning and finished it later in the day because her story compelled me forward. To me, that’s the mark of a good book.
Since this is romantic suspense, there is usually some clever surprise. Sometimes, it is easy to figure out the surprise. Not with this book. She did a fantastic job of hiding the villain. In retrospect, it might be easy to determine, but James conceals the surprise fairly well, only incurring a bit of suspicion to the villain.
Even more, this story deals with trauma and its effects in a way that’s responsible. The heroine of the book, Victoria/Bekah, endures a trauma as a teenager. She changes her identity as protection from the trauma, and she seeks out counseling to help her move forward. The story jumps ahead, and Victoria is a psychologist, helping others through their psychological issues. She begins to be threatened by the perpetrator of her original trauma. These new threats bring the hero into her life as a protector. Blake, the hero of the book, is a new partner in a security firm. He is tasked with providing security for the building where Victoria works. From the outset, these two clash, but also feel a magnetic pull to each other. As the story progresses, Victoria and Blake begin to grow feelings for each other, progressing their relationship. Unfortunately, Blake was never looking for a long commitment, and Victoria’s past continues to haunt her. Even more, her life becomes more and more endangered. Will Blake protect Victoria? Will they find their happily-ever-after?
As Victoria’s story progresses, James shows us the importance of healing from trauma without hiding one’s self away. Victoria’s life is structured to the point that any changes bring about anxiety. She has carefully constructed this new life as a response to her earlier trauma, but it causes her to be closed off to Blake. It makes it difficult to trust him. Even as he changes his thoughts about relationships, Blake struggles against Victoria’s anxieties. However, he works hard to help her feel safe and protected, while also challenging her for her future. Their chemistry is clear, and you cannot help but root for them to succeed.
What I struggled a bit with is really related to character development. I would have liked for Victoria and Blake to develop their feelings for each other more slowly in the beginning. When Blake believes Victoria is the “one” early on, I wanted to question how he knew this. I think sitting with attraction for a bit makes the story truer to life. I would have preferred for him to know her persona more before letting physicality determine his need for her. Additionally, Kate, Victoria’s friend, plays a major part in her life. Yet, when she struggles with her feelings for Blake mid-way through the story, she becomes silent in the story. I would have expected her to return to the storytelling sooner than she does.
Beyond that, Morgan James’s The Devil You Know drew me in quickly and captured me. Blake and Victoria offer us a story that reminds us that to live we have to move past our comfort zone, that we need to let the past remain in the past, and that we can find safety in a love that is whole. Morgan James has quickly become an author I want more from. The Devil You Know has everything you love in a good romantic suspense: characters with chemistry, a surprise twist, and a story that keeps you glued to your chair.
“She wanted to stare into his eyes every day for the rest of her life. This was what she’d waited her whole life for. She’d been waiting for him.“
In love and romance,