Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review Friday - Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Book Review for: "Devil in Winter"
Written by: Lisa Kleypas
Avon Books
ISBN: 978-0-06-056251-9
374 pages
4.5 Stars

Reviewed by: S. Burkhart

Kleypas pens an intriguing tale of romance and suspense with "Devil in Winter." This is book three in Kleypas's "Wallflower Series," a set of stories involving four friends in Victorian England.

Set in London, 1843, Evangeline (Evie) Jenner, is a "wallflower" of a young woman with vibrant red hair, freckles, and an uncomfortable stammer. Yet, while her appearance lends itself akin to being a "wallflower," Evie has a strength of spirit and courage that few men can match.

The novel opens with Evie approaching Viscount Sebastien St. Vincent, a scoundrel to the ultimate degree, and proposing a marriage of convenience. Evie's father is dying and she stands to inherit his gambling club; only her mother's family keeps a brutal, watchful eye over her. Now that Evie is of age, she goes to St. Vincent with her proposal. She's not the type of woman who would catch his attention on a first glance, yet her courage impresses him. When he asks Evie why him, she replies she'd prefer a devil of her own choosing.

Evie and Sebastien make haste to Gretna Green in Scotland and get married. Sebastien's motives for entering into the marriage initially involve the promise of Evie's fortune, but he soon discovers that Evie's made of sterner stuff and he admires her for it. After a wedding night filled with passion, Sebastien realizes that Evie has touched his soul in a way other women have not.

Once back in London, Evie and Sebastien go to the gaming club where Evie's father dies. Joss Bullard, a man at the club, and Evie's family give the couple a challenge to meet, especially when Bullard aims a gun at Evie to shoot her. However, it's Sebastien who takes the bullet for his wife. Will Evie give her rake of a husband a chance at love if he recovers?

Kleypas's writing is crisp. The plot is solid and character driven. The pacing slows just in the right parts to let the reader catch their breath.

Kleypas's descriptions are rich and vivid, using a good economy of words while never slowing down the story.

Both Evie and Sebastien grow as characters. When we first meet Sebastien, he's shallow and caught up in material wealth. As he learns to help run the club and trust in Evie, he grows, discovering that Evie's steadfast nature, courage and strength mean more to him than possessions.

When we first meet Evie, she shows raw courage by proposing to Sebastien. She's comfortable with him because she knows what to expect from him. Her stammer lessens as Sebastien extends trust to her, and she, in turn, learns to trust him.

The novel is "sophisticated/intense" for romance readers and Kleypas's love scenes are graphic, yet tasteful. Overall, "Devil in Winter," is a sinful read that will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.

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