Ella is flat broke:
Wasting away on bodega coffee, barely making rent, seducing the occasional strange man who might buy her dinner. Unexpectedly, an Upper East Side couple named Lonnie and James rescue her from her empty bank account, offering her a job as a nanny and ushering her into their moneyed world. Ella’s days are now spent tending to the baby in their elegant brownstone or on extravagant excursions with the family. Both women are just 26—but unlike Ella, Lonnie has a doting husband and son, unmistakable artistic talent, and old family money.
Ella is mesmerized by Lonnie’s girlish affection and disregard for the normal boundaries of friendship and marriage. Convinced there must be a secret behind Lonnie’s seemingly effortless life, Ella begins sifting through her belongings, meticulously cataloguing lipstick tubes and baby teeth and scraps of writing. All the while, Ella’s resentment grows, but so does an inexplicable and dizzying attraction. Soon Ella will be immersed so deeply in her cravings—for Lonnie’s lifestyle, her attention, her lovers—that she may never come up for air.
Riveting, propulsive, and startling, Devotion is a masterful debut novel where mismatched power collides with blinding desire, incinerating our perceptions of femininity, lust, and privilege.
Advanced praise for Devotion
“Devotion is a romance and a horror story, a tale of obsession and betrayal, revolving around two women divided by the chasm of class. In breathtaking prose, Stevens illuminates the ugly, stunning danger of love. This novel gripped me gorgeously and still won't let me go.” —Hannah Lillith Assadi, award-winning author of Sonora
"Devotion stages the dangerous yet mesmerizing knot made when desire wrestles envy. Two women on opposite sides of money find themselves in a relationship that is thrilling, contradictory, impossible, and erotic in its give and take. Madeline Stevens depicts the inside-out of being a woman with warring impulses that might rip her to pieces or power her into her own agency. This book will make your heart race. This story will make you sweat in the best way." —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children, The Chronology of Water, and The Book of Joan
“Devotion is a dangerous novel—sharp, glittering, and sexy—and Madeline Stevens is a significant new talent. I read this story of obsession, friendship, and betrayal with my heart in my throat, captivated by Ella's increasing absorption into the privileged lives of the couple who hires her.” —Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
“Reading this novel is like being submerged in some otherworldly sea: you can make out familiar shapes, but a strange emotional undertow swirls all around, signaling that these characters are not what they seem. Madeline Stevens has written a thrilling, evocative book about intimacy, identity, and the alien nature lodged at the heart of the people we think we know the best.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations
“Devotion is frighteningly perceptive about the ways women see each other, use each other, hurt each other. Madeline Stevens’ debut novel dares to let jealousy and obsession lead its characters to the places we fear most.” —Rebecca Schiff, author of The Bed Moved
“With each character unstable and unreliable, Stevens’ debut novel shimmers with tension...What everyone in this novel wants is both crystal clear—money, power, attention—and deliciously obscure...A darkly glittering jewel from a promising new voice in thrillers.” —Kirkus
“Stevens meticulously elevates the mundane days of a nanny by injecting Ella’s life with her all-consuming adoration for Lonnie. This debut makes for a stimulating character study.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Madeline Stevens’ new tale of jealousy and obsession is the next big psychological thriller debut.” —Crime Reads
“Slick and sexy.” —Harper’s Bazaar