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Devil in Spring: The Ravenels, Book 3 Mass Market Paperback – February 21, 2017
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“The world of Victorian England is drawn with Kleypas’ usual sharp wit and well-researched political nuances. A funny and charming story that will delight readers from the first page to last.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Spot-on historical detail, hilarious dialog, and an exquisitely appealing heroine make this book a winner. Quirky, witty, and sexy, this compelling romp is absolute bliss. An addictive tale that readers won’t want to put down.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Kleypas has the ability to play on readers’ heartstrings in ways that compel them to laughter and tears, and allow them to create a deep emotional attachment to her characters. […] Once more, Kleypas proves why she is the grand dame of the genre.” (RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars))
From the Back Cover
New York Times bestselling author LISA KLEYPAS delivers the unforgettable tale of a strong-willed beauty who encounters her match in one of London’s most notorious—yet irresistible—rakes . . .
An eccentric wallflower . . .
Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.
A cynical rake . . .
After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.
A perilous plot . . .
After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy—and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven . . .
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Speaking of Sebastian and Evie, their cameos and that of Westcliff of IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN made this book better for me, b/c the story itself is not an upgrade on anything Kleypas has written in the past. Perhaps my objections have to do with that trend towards writing second-generation romances, an obvious marketing ploy to take advantage of the popularity of first-generation romance couples but one that usually ends in disappointment and unfulfilled expectations for me. Cases in point for me are Lorraine Heath's Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series spin-off from the earlier Scoundrels of St. James series, and Eloisa James Desperate Duchesses books after #6. And now Kleypas is using readers' love of the H and h of DEVIL IN WINTER to get us excited about this Spring version. IMO, if there had been no references to Gabriel's parentage and no cameo appearances of beloved characters, this would be a 2-star book; it's just that disjointed in plot and uninspired in writing.
But the elephant in the room of my indifference to the story is my actual dislike of the heroine. I've read some reviews here of readers who believe Pandora has undergone personality improvements and become more mature when compared to her behavior in the first two Ravenel books. If so, it wasn't all that obvious to me. I found her to be less than bright, self-obsessed and self-serving, careless of the feelings of others, and unwilling to compromise about anything. It's all about her, her, her. Gabriel gives and gives and gives in this story. Pandora takes and takes and takes.
Why Gabriel falls in love with Pandora is a puzzle to me. He obviously sees things that I don't and he continually praises her and thinks wonderful thoughts about her throughout the book. I'm happy that he is happy, but the book is unsuccessful in getting me to see her good points. She's quirky, but not in a cute way. She's very pretty, I hear, but he could have any beautiful woman he wants. Why her? She's stubborn and opinionated and oh-so-feminist but she's lacking in much logic and reasoning power.
And the story itself? Well, it has some interesting historical and cultural tidbits, but the plot was all over the place and a mishmash of things: Pandora's feminism/ Pandora's ear issues/ Gabriel's supposed dark sexual needs (really?)/ the OW (related to the "needs"/ a tacked-on danger element to show Kleypas's research about Victorian political provocateurs/ a near-death experience to show Kleypas's research about Victorian medical procedures. The writing is, of course, competent b/c it is written by Kleypas, but only that. It's not clever or witty or humorous or warm and fuzzy or poignant or angsty or anything that touched me emotionally or intellectually. It was just a storytelling event.
I was disappointed. I liked the first two books in this new series better. This one is a 2-star book that I gave an extra star for the Wallflowers connection. I've always loved Evie and Sebastian.
I did have a couple of other problems with the book: the story opens with Evie cuddling her toddler grandchild, Stephen, who is never heard from again, unless I missed it. Evie and Sebastian make welcome appearances at the beginning and the end of the book, but are strangely absent from the bulk of it given that it takes place in their home; a glimpse or two wouldn't have gone amiss. My biggest issue, though, was with the gratuitous mystery that seemed tossed in toward the end. Is this meant to open the door for other related stories? That's fine but it was a clumsy maneuver. The story of Gabriel winning Pandora's heart and hand were sufficient for a terrific story.
Having said all that I thought it was a sweet story with some wonderful dialogue; those things that frustrated me with this story were not enough to make me not like it (much like Sebastian and Evie's that had some issues of its own but still ranks among my favorites).
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Can’t wait for the next one