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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers, Book 3)
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130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Where else can I begin, excpt to say that Kleyas only gets better and better with every book she writes, especially with her wallflowers series. Evie and St. Vincent's breathtaking story is the third in the series (First "Secrets of a Summer Night", then "It Happened One Autumn") and without a doubt the best one to date. Built on the basis of friendship, the series matures remarkably with each installment, always keeping the spirit of sisterhood and friendship intact throughout each. Evie has much to be grateful for in her small circle of friends as her story progresses.

St. Vincent has returned from his foiled attempt to kidnap, wed and seduce Lillian Bowman. Beaten and downtrodden, he's not expecting the shy and reclusive redhead that insists on entry into his home. Even more surprising, he's astonished at Evangeline Jenner's proposal of marriage - a marriage of convenience in which she receives sanctuary and protection from her abusive family and he gets what he so desperately needs. That would be money, of course. The daughter of a notorious gaming club owner and a rumored half-wit, St. Vincent never thought he'd be stooping to such a level as to consider Evie's offer. Hard times call for desperate measures, on both their parts, and the two are quickly off the Gretna Green for an elopement of the not-so-heart. Both are determined to maintain their distance, but both are in for some eye opening experiences, ones where prior assumptions and false conclusions about one another will be tossed to the curb. Is it really possible for a self-professed rake to do a complete one eighty? The chances are good for St. Vincent, and watching his awakening to Evie's not so obvious charms is a wonderful experience.

Kleypas's wallflowers series began with an endearing promise, among four unlikely friends, to aid one another in the begetting of husbands. That theme of spirited friendship has prevaled throughout the series and in Evie's story her friends come through for her at probably one of the most trying times of her life. A husband like St. Vincent was no easy cross to bear, a totally debauched rogue with no concerns besides ones for himself, he definitely makes it hard on Evie at times. However, at the same time, no one ever set out to take such devoted and gentle care of the fragile young woman. All but broken by the abuse of her "noble" family, Evie is frankly surprised at St. Vincent's efforts on her behalf. When he tries to bully her into a position she doesn't like, he's equally amazed at the fiery woman that steps out from behind her shell. Who'd have thought a self-professed wallflower could have such spirit and fortitude? The two are a fun and exciting couple to say the least. The attraction between the two was very well written and the chemistry practically leaped right off the pages, it was so intense. By far the best romantic achievement by Klepas to date. And it brought back fond memories of one of my favorites of hers, "Dreaming of You" ( Derek Craven, the hero of that book, is briefly mentioned in this current title. If you liked this story line, I highly recommend "Dreaming of You" too.). The only complaint I have is that there will be a wait for Daisy's story, "A Scandal in Spring", scheduled for release later in 2006. Keep 'em coming, Kleypas. We definitely want more.
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Devil in Winter" is the much anticipated third book in Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series, a group of books about four upper-class Victorian-era friends who band together in their quest for suitable husbands. The heroine of "Devil in Winter" is Evangeline Jenner, the flame-haired, painfully shy daughter of notorious London gaming club owner Ivo Jenner (a secondary character in Kleypas' wonderful book "Dreaming of You".) The hero is Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, last seen at the end of "It Happened One Autumn" brooding over his failed attempt to kidnap and forcibly wed another Wallflower, the lively American heiress, Lillian Bowman. If you love the Gorgeous, Hardened Rake Reformed By the Awkward, Innocent Virgin storyline, this is the book for you. If you were hoping for something a little bit darker and edgier based upon Sebastian's somewhat morally ambiguous character in "It Happened One Autumn", you may be slightly disappointed.

The story is set up as a Marriage of Convenience plot, with the (previously) timid, stuttering heiress Evie approaching gorgeous, financially-strapped libertine Sebastian with an offer of marriage. Evie is desperate to escape from her abusive, overbearing maternal relatives in order to nurse her ailing, consumptive father through his final days. Viewing marriage as her only option and realizing that Sebastian is in desperate need of money, Evie proposes an elopement to Gretna Green and Sebastian sardonically agrees to the plan. Evie's bargain involves consummation of the marriage to make it legal, but no lovemaking after the first night (Ha! As if!!!)

During their road trip to Scotland for the elopement, the couple begins to bond and (rather unwillingly) to develop feelings for each other. The Sebastian in "Devil in Winter" is a much kinder, gentler version of the terminally selfish, charming, indolent, and amoral rake from "It Happened One Autumn". He spends a lot of time nurturing Evie--supplying her with warm bricks for her feet and even brushing her teeth and tucking her into bed! Evie's stutter almost completely disappears by Chapter 2 (supposedly because she feels so "comfortable" with sarcastic, sinfully attractive and seductive Sebastian.) The inner strength and determination beneath her shyness is revealed (no surprises here.) Sebastian, former heartless lover of hundreds of women, begins to (rather inexplicably IMO) develop a grand passion for sweet, awkward Evie. Evie is worried that Sebastian will break her heart if she allows herself to care about him, so she attempts to hold him at arm's length; however, she finds herself depending upon him more and more once they return to London and her father's gaming club where the formerly indolent Sebastian becomes quite a workaholic. There is a subplot with a villainous former employee of the club who wishes to harm Evie and requisite Heroic Rescue by Sebastian.

The story is well-written and the plot moves along well, particularly considering that it is weighted down by a number of romance cliches. The secondary characters are interesting and very well done, particularly Cam, the gorgeous, enigmatic half-gypsy croupier at Jenner's gaming club.

In summary, this is an entertaining (if not particularly ground-breaking) tale of the Reformation of A Hardened Rake by A Sweet Virgin that is sure to please romance readers who love that familiar plot line.

Recommended.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed the previous two books in the Wallflower series, but this one was fantastic -- I stayed up till 2 AM to finish it, which is always a good sign. If you like Lisa Kleypas' 1994 "Dreaming of You" (Derek Craven's story) then you'll love this one too. Nothing like a flawed hero to make a girl's heart flutter. The unlikely matchup of wallflower Evie Jenner and the scandalous rake Viscount St. James is filled with fireworks, tender moments, life-and-death scenes, and all the right elements to make one fantastic book. The fourth book in this series is due out on August 1st and I can hardly wait!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third installment to the "Wallflower Series," in which the most socially-inept member of the group, Evangeline Jenner, is paired with "rakish" bachelor, Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. These two individuals would likely never have been attracted to each other had it not been for the intensity of their needs: hers for protection by marriage (from evil family members) and his for money (her father's).

Luckily, Evangeline discovers that her husband is not totally selfish and promiscuous and Sebastian discovers that his wife is not a total doormat. Evangeline can and does take up for herself, although at times it is difficult for her. Her father is owner of a wealthy gaming club in London, which Sebastian and Evangeline will inherit upon his death. The happy couple elopes to Gretna Green and returns to London, where Sebastian begins to manage the Club. Evie's selfish relatives attempt to kidnap her and force a marriage with her worthless cousin, but that is quickly foiled (they were to annul the marriage).

There is more danger for the couple, though, from an unknown source. This carries the plot through the second half of the book, which was the most emotionally intense. Both of the main characters are fearful of commitment: she due to her past treatment by relatives (and a physical rejection of sorts by her father)and Sebastian's due to the loss of his sisters and mother. This was an enjoyable sequel that is highly-recommended. Looking forward to Book # 4!
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third book in a four book series. The first two were: Secrets Of A Summer Night and It Happened One Autumn.

The first book I would rate as a 4 star. The second a 5 star. This one rates only a 3 star despite having the two most interesting characters in the series.

I love the idea of the shy, stuttering virgin with the world weary rake. The problem was with the execution. This is not something I would normally ever say about a Lisa Kleypas novel.

My problems with this book were as follows:

1. Sebastian seemed to convert from cold and aloof to warm and tender much too fast.

2. After the elopement, the main characters stayed in one location for the rest of the book. I would have loved to see how they acted in polite society after their marriage. I would have dearly loved to see how other people treated them in society.

3. The villians seemed to be evil for the sake of being evil. I know this is romance, but give me some layers and dimension to your secondary (and tertiary) characters, please.

4. From the previous novel we know that Sebastian is estranged from his father. It would have been nice to have a scene with his father in it in this book.

Things I liked about this book:

1. The love scenes. Say what you will about the rest of the book, Lisa Kleypas knows how to write a really steamy sex scene without overdosing on the cheese factor.

2. The Gretna Green wedding. I've read dozens of romance novels that feature an "anvil wedding" but none ever gave as much detail as this one. Kudos for that.

Overall, it's certainly worth reading. Although, I might suggest waiting until you can get it at a used bookstore.

If this is your first Lisa Kleypas book, may I suggest reading "Dreaming of You?" It's one of her best.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been waiting for this book b/c I LOVED the prequel - "It Happened One Autumn". This is by far the steamiest Kleypas I've ever read. I don't want to spoil anything . . . .first I must warn . . .

Lord St. Vincent is by no means an honorable man. If you ever thought her previous heroes were abrassive - watch out - he's cruder than Nick Gentry and more blunt than Derek Craven. So if you don't like the romances where the hero is purposefully mean to make the heroine get away from him - consider yourself warned! (There were definitely some parts where I was like, "whoa - I can't believe he just said that . . .")

And did I mention that he's hot? To say that he is arrogant is an understatement b/c he doesn't even try - his whole life he's used to women THROWING themselves at him....

But as his relationship w/ Evie unfolds they both open up their hearts and become devoted to eachother.

I loved it!!!!!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Against the volatile backdrop of a somewhat jaded London gambling club, Lisa Kleypas has created a vibrant, compelling and very satisfying love story in this third installment in the "Wallflower" series. Shy, stuttering and insecure Evie Jenner is desperate to marry in order to escape her life of virtual imprisonment with her late mother's abusive relatives. She is frantic to be with her dying father Ivo, the wealthy owner of a popular London gambling club, who is near death from consumption. Her hateful relatives will not permit her to visit Ivo, whom they view as beneath them. They are now trying to force Evie to marry her grotesque cousin, so that they may gain control over the fortune she will inherit when Ivo dies. Evie manages to sneak away, and goes to the home of the dazzling but dissolute Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. Evie knows that the womanizing Sebastian has run out of money, and for mercenary reasons may be willing to marry her, although he would never have looked at her under other circumstances. What Evie does not realize is that Sebastian is taking a very good look at her now, and he definitely likes what he sees - intelligence, toughness, and acute desirability.

Evie finds the courage to propose, Sebastian indeed accepts, and before long they are wed in a quick ceremony in Scotland. However, Evie insists that once the marriage is consummated, they no longer share a bed. She believes that Sebastian is incapable of fidelity, and she does not want to get hurt. Although Sebastian agrees, he does not mean it. He is determined to prove himself and to win her over. Evie does not realize how much she has underestimated her new husband, and not just in his loyalty to their marriage. As they return to London and the precarious state of affairs at her father's club, Sebastian is faced with an onslaught of demands, challenges and crucial business decisions. He surprises Evie - and himself - at every turn, as the formerly indolent and selfish Sebastian is at last given the chance to prove his worth.

What a wonderful read! Sebastian is a deliciously splendid hero - intense and passionate with a delightfully dry wit. And underneath his arrogant and uncaring exterior, he of course has an innate decency and kindness that is lovingly revealed as the story unfolds. Evie is equally appealing, as this shyest of all the wallflowers finally comes into her own, with a growing confidence and quiet strength that fascinate her increasingly smitten husband. There is an undeniable attraction between this couple from their very first moments together, two lost souls perhaps sensing a kindred spirit. The wedding scene is wonderfully written, with both parties clearly wanting more than a sterile marriage, but afraid to admit it even to themselves. The role played throughout the story by Evie's gold wedding band is pure genius, and creates some of the book's most memorable and tender moments. Kudos to the sterling supporting cast, including the inimitable Lord Westcliff from "It Happened One Autumn," and the enigmatic half-gypsy Cam Rohan, who will hopefully someday get his own Kleypas story. This book is smartly written and very satisfying and I highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lisa Kleypas is the Joe Dimaggio of historical romance, hitting home runs and making it look easy with her smooth, sensual and satisfying stories of love and luxury and desire.

Sexy and suave Sebastien is a bad boy. Sinfully handsome, but still a very bad boy. The last time we saw him, in "Autumn," he was trying desperately to kidnap an American heiress for her money and getting beaten to a bloody pulp for his trouble. Bruised and bloody and aching all over, he retreats to his lair, meaning to brood away the hours and seek forgetfulness in the welcoming arms of the nearest brandy bottle.

Just as he is beginning to feel the usual soothing effects, however, Sebastien is roused from his torpor by the arrival of a most unexpected guest. Evie Jenner is a nobody, a wall flower of common birth whom Sebastien has been ignoring all summer. But Evie has money -- and a desperate plan. Pursued by her own rapacious relations, she seeks safety in a marriage of convenience to a man she knows to be weak, cruel and heartless. Her matter of fact attitude, and her courage, stir something in Sebastien. Something very different stirs as he becomes aware of her flaming red hair and magnificently ample figure -- virtues that the shy, frightened Evie kept carefully hidden during the social season.

The love story between Sebastien and Evie is nearly perfect, and it takes them from the gaming hells of London to the wilds of Scotland. The one complaint I have is that the villain in this book is no match for Sebastien. He's a yucky, diseased low life who literally crawls out of the woodwork on cue, mumbles a few obscenities in Evie's general direction, and is dispatched with ridiculous ease. I know Lisa Kleypas can do better than this! In the last book, the villain was sexier than the hero -- mainly because he turned out to be Sebastien. It's getting really annoying in these romances, too, when the villain threatens the heroine early on and she says, "oh, no, don't tell my husband -- he'll want to save me in the last chapter." I kid you not, Evie comes very close to using these very words!

But it's okay -- this book is still a classic, and the way Sebastien goes from cruel and cynical (and drunk) to tender and passionate and totally wrapped around Evie's finger is really something to cherish.

Dimaggio always makes it look easy -- and so does Lisa Kleypas.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Loved 'Dreaming Of You'? or Do you have a soft spot for reformed rakes? Then this is the book for you!

Shy stuttering heroine, Evie, has a problem and her solution is to offer marriage to one of the most lecherous men in London. The heiress is desperate to get away from her physically abusive relatives, who attempt to force her into marriage with a cousin by any means neccessary in order to obtain her fortune. Thus, Evie has to make a deal with the devil -Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent. Offer herself and her fortune in exchange for safety.

Sebastian cannot believe who has called upon his bachelor residence and the proposal she makes. Its a win-win for him. He gains her fortune, gets to consummate the marriage and is free to continue in lecherous ways while she leaves to start her own independant life.

Only things don't actually turn out that way. Sebastion has to deal with his new acquirement -a gambling hell, which is being sponged by dishonest empoyees and is run-down. Violence erupts everywhere, Evie's relatives come a calling and someone wants Sebastion and/or Evie dead. Sebastion is also plagued by the usual clenching of his heart whenever Evie is around and the fury he feels when she smiles at someone else.

I loved the way these two fell in love. It sort of snuck-up-from-behind them. Many tender scenes.

Great addition to the Wallflower series. Get it. You won't regret it. It stands on its own, but I do recommend you read the others in the series. I read this one first and I'm glad. I don't know if I would have loved Sebastion as much if I read It Happened One Autumn first, he's the villian.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is third installment in the popular Wallflower series by Kleypas (if I'm not mistaken, three of the four titles made it on the AAR Top 100 Reader's Fave list this year) and it doesn't disappoint for a good read. Lisa Kleypas writes one darn good romance- and she surely doesn't let you down in the bedroom. The sensuality rating is scorching in this one. But the romance is just OK.

Sebastian is the wild, lustful, fun rake who agrees to an "anvil wedding" with shy, stuttering Evie. The arrangement is mutually beneficial. She needs a husband to escape her awful family that abuses her and would marry her off to a grotesque cousin to keep her inheritance. And he needs need a wealthy wife to support his rakish lifestyle. When she appears at his doorstep with an offer, despite having ever talked with him before, he readily accepts and whisks her off to Gretna Green for a wedding just days later.

This romance lacks the bed wooing because the two waste no time consummating their marriage- of course to make it legit. We get to know the characters intimately long before we know them emotionally, and the pair could say the same about each other. I actually liked this plot device because it was fresh and original. (And realistic, I'm sure, for the time period.)

Once back in London, the pair move into Evie's father's gambling hall to care for him as he lays dying. Soon, Sebastian inherits the gaming hall and takes it upon himself to run it and even improve it and finds a passion within his formally idle self that he never knew existed. The gaming hall and his sweet, new wife seem to give this rakish man a new perspective on priorities and he quickly changes his ways in order to win the heart of his orange haired, freckled beauty.

Throw in a fiendish family, several murder attempts, one chaste bet to stay celibate and lots of kisses and bed play, and you have "Devil in Winter."

What this novel is missing the most is character development. If you don't carefully read the passages, you will miss the transformation in Sebastian and he will seem to go from rake (who, yes, calls his woman a "bitch," OUCH) to poet, a man who begs his wife to make love. But worst of all, and what makes the story at all inferior, is that it's missing my favorite character... REGENCY ENGLAND. You will find that this is a two stage story. Besides the anvil wedding, the two stay within the walls of the gambling hall almost entirely. This novel could take place anywhere, and Society is null and void.

That being said, Kleypas rarely lets you down. She knows how to write a good love scene, and there isn't a novel of hers not worth reading. I can't rate this one above three stars though, because it's missing such important elements that make a novel a keeper for me.

Hmmm, and one last note.... what's the deal with the cover of this novel? I wonder what Lisa thinks of it? We see a large Victorian mansion, bay windows abound, sitting in a frozen countryside in the middle of no where. Though the story seems to take place in inner city London.
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