I have only read a few Jo Beverley's so far, but when I found this out of print and hard to find regency at the paperback section of the library, I could not resist.
As always for this author, this is a novel that is very well done. The tone is very serious, as is also usual for Ms. Beverley, and her book is well-written, and well plotted, with very real-like characters - in short, a top-notch Regency. But, make no mistake - this is a true Regency, so that if you dislike the Regency format, you may not find this novel much to you liking either.
Emily is on the way home from a business transaction of buying a flock of sheep (in proxy for her father, because he is paralyzed as a result of an ill-advised duel), when she meets up with her "dark angel" - - who is on the way home from his paramour's house. She actually gets to witness a volatile "good-bye" scene between x and his mistress - and gets caught in the melee against her will. He courteously walks her home against her protests - and against her better judgment. The more she finds out about this "dark angel" the more she realizes that this is a person she would be best off having nothing to do with - but there is a part of her that can't help thinking about him - and can't help wondering - is he as black as he's painted? The simple answer does seem to be yes.
Ms. Beverley has taken a rather common-place plot - the innocent and the rake (hence the title Emily and the Dark Angel), and in this book, she has given it a new face. There are not too many ways to reform a rake - one of the easiest and the path most traveled is that he wasn't much of a rake to begin with. But in this story, we are assured that our hero is very much a rake - possibly a villain, even. Yes, he's every bit as black as he's painted, and Emily is every bit as innocent as she seems - but is black black? Is what society perceives as black really black? Or perhaps black is really white... and in Ms. Beverley's capable hands, it does seem that way...
I happen to particularly love a story about someone who does the right thing, yet in an unconventional way, and in a way that is censored by society. I also like a book about someone who was hurt, and uses that as a springboard to develop a passion for justice, for right and wrong - another element of this story.
On the other hand, much of this story centers around hunting - this is set in Devonshire in the hunting season, and hunting is indeed very much part of the story. I have never come in contact with any aspect English hunting, I don't particularly have any interest in hunting, and if I were to see it up close I would probably have even less interest. I understand that the English do have a passion for hunting - but I am the reader, and I found that part of the story not interesting for me.
I also found Emily's innocence a little much - while this is very realistic for that time period, and this does make for some very funny scenes ("pudding" comes to mind), Emily does tend to come across a little of the fool - and I like my heroines to have at least an equal footing in a relationsip.
But of course, this is still a Jo Beverley, and everything you would expect from this author is in this novel. As usual, this is a complicated story, and there is a lot going on, each page is well filled. Her usual brilliance of plot is here, as well. And although I personally don't think that she is the most outstanding writer ever, many parts of this book are very well written. In short, this is an enjoyable novel, and is exactly what you might expect from Jo Beverley, in a Regency format.