Devil in Winter was the book that made me aware of Lisa Kleypas. At the time, Devil in Winter was just released and there was a huge buzz about it. Then, the friendly war between Derek and Sebastian as Ms Kleypas' best hero started... so I wanted to see what all the buzz was and got the book. You can read my original review here.
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
published by Avon in February 2006
A devil's bargain
Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!
Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fineeye for beauty could do far worse.
But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts -- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions...or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Wallflowers series, Book #3
The Story: Evangeline Jenner is the daughter of a noble woman and Ivo Jenner, a boxer and owner of a popular game hall. She's been living with her maternal relatives who had hopes that aristocrats would overlook Evie's origin and she could secure an advantageous marriage. Unfortunately, Evie is painfully shy which brings her to stutter and has been a wallflower for the past few seasons. Now, she is in a desperate situation as her father is about to die from consumption and her relatives have decided to marry her to her cousin in order to keep their hands on the money.
Given the recent events of It Happened One Autumn, Evie knows that Lord Sebastian is in dire need of an heiress and so, escapes her family to propose him a marriage of convenience. Lord Sebastian would get the money necessary for him to continue his luxurious lifestyle while she would get his protection against her family, get to spend time with her father in his last days and also an amount of money that would allow her freedom.
Of course, Sebastian accepts and they both head for Gretna Green at great speed. Sebastian quickly realizes what a gem Evie is. She is not as stupid or cold as the ton believes and is actually very pretty. Then, there is the strong attraction he feels towards him. Could Sebastian do something as mundane as falling in love with his wife?
My Opinion: On my first read, I felt that Devil in Winter didn't live up to the buzz in blogland. Sure, it was a good book, but was Sebastian really the best hero? I don't think so. Then again, Derek didn't move me as much as he did to others either. So I'm probably not the best reference :D Still, Devil in Winter was a good solid book and I still feel that way this time around.
It's crazy how much the mind remembers and forgets :P I mean, you remember the big lines, but the details? Not so much.
Okay, so how did I feel this time around? I still really liked Evie. In my opinion, she definitively made the book with her inner strength. She was such a fighter, never bending to her family's will, finding ways to go to her father, proposing to Sebastian. It was quite a surprise to see her character unfolding :D As for Sebastian, I think I liked him better this time around. There was less preconceived opinions about Sebastian and it allowed me to enjoy his character better. I thought this time around that Devil in Winter kind of fit the heroine-thawing-hero theme that I enjoy so much :) While Evie wasn't very happy-go-lucky, she did draw out Sebastian's character. I wished we had more background on him, why did he become so jaded, so cynical? What shaped his life? Why did he believe that all he had to do in life was to enjoy the advantages of his position? There are many rakes out there, but not all of them are jaded, not all of them are aristocrats. We were given a glimpse of Sebastian's background - his mother and younger sister died, but that's it. It did seem like he and his father didn't get along that well either. I wished we could have seen his father, that he'd play a bigger role in the storyline. I realized writing this out that if Ms Kleypas had addressed this issue, Sebastian's character might have become a bit more stereotypical. Still, I think that it would have made me understand Sebastian more. The fact that he changed so much during the course of the book - caring for someone else, starting to "work"... Not only Westfield was astonished, but even Sebastian was! He didn't know where it was coming from.
As for the storyline, I enjoyed everything revolving around Evie and Sebastian relationship as well as the game hall. The weak point of this book remains the half-sibling storyline. It was weak and predictable - the reason why he disliked Evi so much was so obvious. As for the "faking death," seriously? That part of the book was simply not interesting. It might have moved Evie and Sebastian's relationship along, adding some danger, but it felt a bit too much.
It was also interesting to see Cam in Devil in Winter, now that Mine Till Midnight is out. It was fun, but at the same time, he seemed so different. As for Westfield and the other wallflowers... well, I liked Westfield because he was a friend of Sebastian and understood him, but I really disliked Lillian. She just butts in where she doesn't belong and only does as she likes without regards to the others. Grrr. It doesn't matter that she wants to help, since she's not helping one bit. Come to think of it, there's a lot of connection in all of Ms Kleypas' books...
My Grade: Originally, I gave the book a 3.5/5 which would be equivalent to a B. Now, I'd say a B+. I really enjoyed re-reading Devil in Winter. It is definitively a strong and solid book, the best out of the Wallflowers series. Bonus is I really liked Sebastian's character a lot more this time around :D