Lisa Kleypas is back with another masterful romance full of intrigue, tension, and true love that conquers all.
Devil in Spring is the third book in Kleypas’ Ravenel’s series, but the title brings to mind my favorite of her novels—Devil in Winter, with good reason: the rake in question is Gabriel, the son of Sebastian, the former Lord St. Vincent who has since risen to the title of Duke. Following in the footsteps of his father before him, Gabriel has made a reputation of bedding and troublemaking in high society, his latest scandal involving a married mistress. His parents, who to my delight make multiple cameos throughout the novel—reminding the readers of their own epic romance and the evolution of their happily ever after—are concerned that Gabriel will back himself into a corner he can’t marry his way out of. But then again, Sebastian reminds his still-beautiful wallflower Evie—the love of a good woman can tame even the most rambunctious beast.
Like-father-like-son is the name of the game, but what is different about Devil in Spring is its heroine: where Evie was a quiet rule-follower, Pandora Ravenel is anything but. Awkward, more ambitious than her station allows, and defiant of the conventions that require her to court and marry, Pandora follows the beat of her own drum. When a miscommunication causes her to be caught in what looks like a delicate position with Gabriel, it is determined that they must marry to preserve both their reputations. Pandora outright refuses, but Gabriel finds himself intrigued by the proposition of marriage to this beautiful and independent woman, and resolves to win her heart.
Kleypas’ romances are the perfect balance of plot and romance, and filled with complex and exciting characters. The growing attraction between Pandora and Gabriel, her pursuit of a board game business that she can own without male interference (inspired by real history, as the author’s afterword notes), and a government conspiracy are all weaved together into a compelling read. There are no major “tortured past” revelations, aside from Pandora’s parents not having the happiest marriage (hence her reluctance to participate in the convention), so this is a good pick for readers who prefer to keep their romances on the lighter side. The trope of an experienced man ‘teaching’ a virgin how to pleasure him—and experience her own pleasure—in bed feels fresh and new, written by Kleypas’ experienced pen.
Pandora is just as exciting a heroine; in contemporary romance, the “clumsy” girl is an oft-used trope, but in historical romance, we often see girls with grace and poise become unraveled by the men they fall for. In Devil in Spring, Pandora’s awkwardness and quirks (her fear of the dark, her trepidation about dancing, and her staunch opinions about her financial independence) are a change of pace from the usual buttoned-up, traditional romantic heroine. There are twists and reveals where Pandora’s character is concerned that explain some of her behavior, but they don’t erase the essence of her personality. Gabriel is thus the perfect match for her—while he is sexually experienced and she is a virgin, their personalities and experiences align perfectly: neither intended on falling for the conventions their parents did. And yet, when love takes over, fear of convention often falls away—along with your corset.
A bright, imaginative romance with just the right hint of nostalgia from Kleypas’ previous work.
Devil in Spring is on B&N bookshelves now.