This is the first book in the de Vincent adult romantic suspense series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Each book features on one of the three de Vincent brothers, who are super rich old money living in a GIANT mansion with basically multiple apartments built within it, set in New Orleans. Also the house is almost definitely haunted and the de Vincent family has a reputation for having a curse that afflicts the women close to them with death or insanity. Juicy stuff guys.
This book is about the youngest de Vincent brother, Lucian.
Julia Hughes has always played it safe until she learned a very painful lesson. Now Julia’s starting over with a job in the Louisiana bayou—and a scorching encounter with a stranger, only to discover he’s Lucian de Vincent… her new employer. The de Vincent brothers share a massive fortune and a dark reputation. Julia cares for their troubled sister, but a menacing presence in the mansion—and the ever-present temptation of Lucian—prove dangerously distracting.
Lucian’s grandmother claimed de Vincent men fall in love once—and hard. Apparently, it’s Lucian’s turn. Julia’s compassionate care of his twin makes Lucian want to lay himself bare. But some secrets are better for Julia not to know.
The recent “suicide” of Lucian’s father is the latest in a string of deaths on the estate. Someone is eliminating the de Vincents. And the best way to get to Lucian may be through Julia…
The setting has a spooky gothic feel which I can definitely get into. If you know me, you know I’m really more of a fantasy paranormal romance fan so I love this kind of setting but it was interesting to see how a contemporary romance, suspense or not, would fit within it. Sometimes while reading the book I would get focused on the romance and forget about all the spook, so just when I was nice and comfortable and calm, something spooky would happen. And although the house being haunted is mentioned a bunch, it’s not actually a book about ghosts or anything, it’s literally just the backdrop for where all the other human led creepy stuff happens. Which was kind of awesome – imagine working in this probably definitely haunted house and then bad stuff happens and you’re like omg is it the ghosts, or in my head, or actually a psycho person? This is basically what the characters are dealing with on top of all the lusty fun.
Julia is hired to take care of the de Vincent’s sister, who had been missing for ten years and randomly shows up basically mute and vegetative though the doc can’t find anything physically wrong so they suspect it’s trauma related from wherever she was held for the last ten years. And the de Vincent dad has just apparently committed a suspicious suicide. All of this being the set up for a romance is so outside of my norm!
The romance has a very bizarre start that I’m not going to spoil but I think it adds to the gothic tone of the book. The sex scenes were delicious, well written, and not eye roll inducing. This is the first adult book I’ve read by Armentrout so I was pleased to see that the sexy allusions in her young adult works were a good indication that her steamy adult scenes would hold up as well.
Armentrout knows how to write strong female characters that aren’t traditional damsels in distress – Julia stood her ground with sexy alpha male Lucian and she’s much more likable for it. Lucian is the youngest and has a reputation for being a player. He’s not very interested in the family business and his interactions with his brother were some of the most interesting in the book and definitely makes you want to continue with the series and learn more about this mysterious family.
I’m fairly new to the romantic suspense genre and I haven’t read much regular suspense either so I don’t really know what tropes and things to expect going in. But danger and scandals are afoot and not everyone makes it out alive.
The end of the book leaves you with a gasp moment about one of the other brother’s and sets you up for the next book in the series, focused on middle brother Gabe de Vincent.
Honestly I’m excited to read Gabe’s story but I think it’s going to be the older brother, Devlin’s story that will be the most intense because he’s got the scary asshole thing down but I want to know more about his other layers – cause if he’s the hero of book three, then we know there’s got to be more layers.
The ending and big reveal of this book is quite nutso and I definitely cannot relate to how the characters just move on with their life without alllll the PTSD, but I can look past it and I think it’s implied the brothers are used to these nutso things and I guess Julia is real good at accepting this.
Would recommend for fans of erotic romantic suspense in a contemporary gothic setting and live-in employer/employee trope.