Her Demon Lover
Louisa Bronte | Avon Books | 1973 | 156 pages
Young cosmetics heiress Sophia travels to a small town in the Balkans with her new husband Gregory Holden in an attempt to uncover her family history. Adopted at a young age from an orphanage in Boston, all Sophia remembers of her birth parents are the tales told by a nun who briefly knew her mother from the old country—tales of seeing the future and controlling the winds. Upon arriving at their hotel, the newlyweds meet the strangely magnetic Count Derek Vlahos and his alluring companion Madame Lillian Montevan, a former singer in the Paris cabarets. Sophia is delighted to learn that Derek knows the lineage of her family, and that she may be his distant cousin.
The Count invites Sophia and Greg to his castle, the Eagle’s Nest, to examine the historical books in his library and research the family genealogy at her leisure. A full day’s journey by carriage, the Eagle’s Nest rises dramatically from its mountaintop location, surrounded by sheer cliffs. At the castle, Sophia finds herself drawn to the charismatic powers of Count Vlahos, with every incidental touch sending shock waves of desire through Sophia’s receptive body. Although newly married, she has discovered her husband to be a clumsy and inattentive lover, and she longs for the dominating embrace of a more powerful man. The Count boldly flirts with Sophia, and dismisses her weak husband with contempt, driving his voluptuous companion Lillian to distract Greg’s attention.
Derek eventually reveals his true nature to Sophia during a visit to the castle’s tower room. Looking out over the dramatic mountain views, Derek demonstrates his ability to command the flights of the swirling eagles, to raise the winds and generate the gathering electrical storm. He tells her that she also shares their family’s powers, and that together—as husband and wife—they could rule the countryside. Resisting him for the present, Sophia is nevertheless intrigued by the prospect of fully developing her own latent powers. Conflicted about her feelings for her own cousin, she is reminded again of his terrifying presence, when during the course of an evening’s entertainment he conjures a demon to do his bidding—a trick Sophia knows to be more than a mild amusement for party guests.
More a florid romance than a supernatural thriller, Her Demon Lover plays out as a seductive battle of wills between Sophia and Derek. Does she surrender to the dominating force of the powerful man of her imagination, or is she able to muster some previously undiscovered inner-strength from her milquetoast husband and resist the siren call of her supernatural birthright? An unexpectedly ferocious romantic encounter with her husband midway through the novel ultimately telegraphs the twist ending.
The story also provides valuable life lessons about accepting invitations for mountain climbing from the rival to your wife’s affections.