Friday, August 5, 2022

Book Review: The Devil You Know by Elizabeth O'Roark

Series: The Devils
Rating: Five out of five stars
Published: 06/23/2022
Publisher: self-published
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance


 There's a devil on my shoulder, and every Monday morning she announces herself. She's this delicious flame in my chest, a flurry of whispered suggestions in my ear. Suggestions I ignore...because every single one of them is about Ben Tate.

Ben—Stealer of Clients, Evicter of Homeless Women, Nemesis. Sitting across from me every damn Monday with his lovely, smug smile and his too-perfect teeth, the living symbol of everything I hate.

It's been my policy to avoid him, but when a case comes into the firm—one that could change his career and mine—I make an exception. It means weekends and evenings by his side. It means enduring his smirk and his smart mouth and never taking the bait.

Until the night Ben says "Beg"...and that devil on my shoulder decides to make a few demands of her own. my shoulder decides to make a few demands of her own.


The Devil You Know is the third in Elizabeth O'Roark's The Devils Series. Having just finished it, I feel confident stating that I believe it may be the most ideal enemies-to-lovers book I've read to date. As far as tropes go, it seems to be a favorite of mine, as is this book's other main trope: workplace romance.

The story is told from the point of view of the heroine, Gemma Charles, an attorney at a "soulless" Los Angeles law firm. Her adversary, Ben Tate ("lives-to-irritate-me"), is a lawyer in the same firm. Gemma is dichotomous in her regard toward men. On the one hand, she's distrusting and bitter (the reasons for those feelings are most skillfully explained) and on the other, she has dreamily concocted an entire romantic future based on Hallmark movies that she and her mother watch.

One of the most important elements in making a novel favorable to me is to have outstanding dialogue. Character interactions that feel authentic even when those characters are antagonistic toward each other are my jam. I feel the author did an excellent job with Gemma and Ben's "sparring." Their zingers and comebacks are extremely clever, and even when I was thinking "ouch" or "good one" I didn't feel like what was said was ever truly hateful. Keeping the balance in these enemies-to-lovers stories is critical. Since we're only aware of Gemma's reasons for her antagonistic feelings toward Ben we have to assume along with Gemma why Ben lives to irritate her. And when we are enlightened, it's very rewarding.

Gemma has a goal to become Junior Partner but it's been quite the endeavor. That effort is plotted quite effectively in both the present and in flashback sequences. I felt great empathy for what she continued to go through and that is directly attributed to effective storytelling.

I appreciate that Ben wasn't made into an unlikable character. We see him as Gemma does and she struggles with her feelings, no matter how much antipathy she outwardly exhibits toward him. She recognizes that he has good qualities and that others respond positively to him. Hence, her dilemma in dealing with her personal devil.

Gemma's backstory is more developed than Ben's; but his character is perceptive, eloquent, and decent—his dialogue is ultimately representative of all of those traits. There is quite a bit of conflict throughout the book, but that just makes their entire relationship so fascinating. From their antagonistic beginnings through their combustible physical relationship (whether hate sex or merely impassioned) to the dreamy if-not-quite-Hallmark-worthy but exceedingly thoughtful and romantic happy ending. The Devil You Know is an extraordinarily gratifying read.


“Home?” I murmur, glancing at him. “I didn’t know humans were allowed to jaunt back and forth over the River Styx like that.”

His eyes raise to mine. His mouth twitches. “There’s a small toll. It’s really quite civilized.”


It’s well after dark, and I’m only halfway through drafting a custody agreement when Ben arrives at my office door. “Knock knock,” he says. I raise a brow. “You realize saying knock knock is redundant when you actually knock.” He leans against the door frame. “I mostly said it to annoy you.” “You shouldn’t have expended the effort.” I open a new document on my laptop. “You standing there is enough to annoy me.”


“You’re early,” I tell him, not slowing my stride as I pass. “Only you would try to make that sound like a flaw,” he mutters. “What a fun night out you must be.” “You know what’s fun about the women you date?” I ask. “The way they all just seem to disappear after you’ve been out with them once. Someone should check into that.” “You know what’s fun about the men you date?” he replies. “The way they don’t exist in the first place.”

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