THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL by Teresa Denys

THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A seething-bosom saga of 17th-century Spain, in which the heroine is almost ingloriously ""had"" by several villains. . . and gloriously ""had"" by one to whom she cannot admit her love until page 475. Betrothed against her will to Bartolome, the mysteriously absent Duque de Valenzuela, lovely Joanna quickly meets the Duque's ""Gentleman Companion,"" Felipe Tristan--a coldly-appraising, sardonic would-be lover (""too-heavy lids hooded cold, oddly set eyes"") who preys on Joanna while bodice buttons pop. Even worse, Joanna's Duque turns out to be a drooling idiot, given to torturing birds and girls. But then, due to the intervention of the King (whose bastard the Duque is), Joanna is freed to return home to her father and a childhood love. Happy ending? Not on your life. Because now Tristan, after allowing Bartolome to drown in a wine vat, forces Joanna to marry him (he had, you see, earlier taken her virginity). So on they go across Spain, stopping at Cadiz-where Joanna is tricked into a high-class brothel and Felipe is left for dead on a dung hill by hirelings of Bartolome's uncle. . . who also kidnaps Joanna. (There's a muzzy matter of inheritance of property involved in all the dark carryings-on.) Finally, after duels, Joanna's escape, and a trek in an oxcart, now-pregnant Joanna and Felipe at last board an English ship, and Joanna learns that Felipe is none other than Sir Philip Stanhope, long exiled from his native Devonshire. Fleshly episodes (of the ""raging torrents"" school) alternate with devilish plots and Ha-Ha-me-proud-beauty rhetoric--in a swelter of light period nonsense with heavy breathing.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's