An eccentric wallflower
Most debutantes dream of finding husbands. 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 realise their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven.
I love everything Lisa Kleypas writes, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Devil in Spring as much as I did. My type of historical heroine is much more an Annabelle or a Helen, and so Pandora took me by surprise.
As with the other books in this series, Kleypas has chosen a later nineteenth century setting: the 1870s. It’s a fascinating era where everything was changing – this is definitely not Jane Austen’s Regency!
We’ve met Pandora in the first two books, and knew she was eccentric, fairly extroverted, and interested in creating her own board games, not in marriage. She is also a twin who – like her twin and other sister – was raised in seclusion on the family estate. Because of this she can be naïve for her age.
However, there’s much more to her than that, and she has a secret she has been hiding from everyone. In her notes at the end of the book, Kleypas also suggests Pandora has ADHD.
Something that has been bothering me about historical romance for a while is the way very young heroines are always either far too mature for their ages (it’s rare to find HR heroines beyond their early twenties, but they so often act two decades older), or that they’re condemned by readers for NOT being too mature for their ages.
So I did a mental fist-pump when the hero’s father pointed out:
‘To play devil’s advocate – has it occurred to you that Lady Pandora will mature?’
What a novel thought!
She was becoming someone new, with him – they were becoming something together – and nothing was going to turn out the way she’d expected.
The hero, Gabriel, is the eldest son of the characters from a popular Kleypas book: Devil in Winter. He will one day be a duke, and the last thing he thinks he wants is being (accidentally) trapped into marriage to someone as unsuitable for the role of duchess as Pandora.
But trapped they are, and I believed the development of their relationship. They are both good people, but people with very different ideas about the world.
Even though there are some very dark moments in this story, a lot of it – thanks to the developing relationships between Pandora, Gabriel, and his family – was light-hearted and even funny. It’s nice to have two likeable main characters.
I also liked that the hero doesn’t immediately accept challenges to gender roles. He has been raised a certain way, at a certain point in time, and has to learn to open his mind.
Kleypas does an incredible amount of research, and it is very obvious in this book, where she needed to find a plausible way to give a major character a near-death experience – and bring them back with realistic medicine of the day.
She also uses London and the Victorian setting as characters, which is why her books are more engrossing than many others writing in the same genre.
One thing: no self-respecting Englishperson would call aluminium “aluminum”!
I really am enjoying this series, and am annoyed there’s no information about book four!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.