"The Sins of Allie Lawrence" by Philip Caveney is a beautifully-written and thoroughly enjoyable book for young adults which pulls you in at the start and keeps you engaged all the way to the end. It's also a book that is quite hard to review without giving too much away and risking the enjoyment of the reader.
The rear cover says "The Sins of Allie Lawrence is a tale of temptation, inspired by the Scottish legend of Black Donald and set against the vibrant world of the theatre." This wasn't a legend I was familiar with, so a quick trip to Wikipedia revealed that: "Black Donald (Scottish Gaelic: Domhnall Dubh or Domnuill-dhu) is a Highland colloquialism for the Devil in Scottish mythology." This isn't a spoiler, for reasons I'll explain in a moment.
We'll start with the rest of the rear cover blurb. "After a blazing row with her mother, sixteen-year-old Allie Lawrence impulsively runs away from the family home in Killiecrankie, with no other plan than to get to Edinburgh and 'be an actor'. When a chauffeur-driven car pulls up beside her and she's offered a lift by its handsome and mysterious passenger, Nick, against her better judgment, she accepts. Soon she discovers that he is a 'manager' who claims he can make all her dreams come true. She just needs to sign a contract..."
It takes no great insight on the part of the reader to work out fairly quickly that Nick, who says he used to be called Donald, is by no means the normal sort of charming predator that parents warn their daughters to avoid. Even without the strong hint of the link to Black Donald, you soon work out who Allie is dealing with, as does Allie herself. But when the path to her dreams is being laid out in front of her, how far along it will she be drawn by temptation?
The story is beautifully constructed and builds steadily and intriguingly to its conclusion. Elements of the plot can be predicted, not least because you're aware of the framework within which it is set. This simply adds to the tension as you realise the number of pages still to be read is diminishing fast and you have no idea at all how the author can possibly bring Allie's story to any sort of satisfactory conclusion. There are some very neat and completely unexpected twists towards the end which allow that to be very enjoyably accomplished. This is a book we'd highly recommend to a young adult audience.