Saturday, August 27, 2022

Stephanie Laurens - Devil's Bride

When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire town by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England′s most eligible bachelor, Devil′s infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.
But Honoria wasn′t about to bend society′s demands and marry a man "just" because they′d been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she′d go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?

Comment: I had this book on the shelf for more than ten years. I got it after finding it was the first of a long series and I thought that if I liked it, I'd have plenty more to look for after, but time flies... well, it's still a very long series and I did like this one so perhaps I might yet have many to come...

In this first book we meet the Cynster family, a very well respected and influential family during the Regency, and how all the men are considered swoon worthy. It helps the family is rich and important enough that everyone follows its members and looks at them for gossip. Sylvester "Devil" Cynster, the duke of St Ives, is now the head of the family and his fate is sealed the day he finds governess Honoria Wetherby trying to help his cousin Tolly, who was shot at and eventually dies. He feels he has to protect Honoria's reputation, for they were found together but when he learns of her family and in sight of her personality, he believes he doesn't have to search anymore, he has found his perfect bride. However, Honoria doesn't want to be stuck in this rigid society and she wants to travel...will Devil convince her after all? Will they find who killed Devil's cousin?

I didn't know what to expect from this book, only that it was an historical romance and that it would feature a cast of characters which would, inevitably, be populated and, therefore, sequential to what would happen from one book to another. I don't mind these types of stories, so I was looking for to be entertained and that, the book certainly achieved!

The writing style is one I actually liked, slightly introspective, meaning this is third person but very often from the perspective of one of the protagonists. This means we can understand their reasoning, their emotions without it being too ambiguous to imagine and it added a certain seriousness to what was being decided. It was also interesting to have an idea of what the main characters wanted to do before they actually did something, namely how quickly the hero decided he would marry Honoria.

I think the whole romance section was likable enough. Devil was certainly determined and assured of what he wanted and that included a wife like Honoria, who comes from a good family, even though she was working as a governess when the story begins. Their courtship starts as something quite practical, Honoria is convinced to keep the appearances but I was still eager to see how they would fall in love, even though she wanted to travel and be independent. I think the moment she decides she does want to take a chance on him, so to speak, was badly done. I wasn't convinced she could be persuaded to change her mind over the opinion of an old lady, but... I kind of wanted their connection to be such that she would decide on her own she would want to be with him.

As their attraction and mutual respect develops, I couldn't avoid thinking that everyone took for granted they would be a couple anyway... there were moments this was a bit too far fetched but I suppose the fact women had reputations to maintain helped making this seem important...when they put aside certain assumptions, though, I think it was cute to see them together and also when they interacted with others. I think this second issue could have been done better too, because some interactions weren't as smoothly done, but I could overlook that for the interest in what would happen next.

The plot has some mystery, the protagonists and everyone in the family helps somehow. Honoria wants to be aware of new discoveries but Devil and his cousins want to protect her. She still tries, which I kind of liked, even if that meant one or two silly situations. However, I must be fair, the identity of the villain behind cousin Tolly's death is incredibly obvious. I actually hoped that this was so obvious because the author had a twist hidden in her sleeve but no, that person is the villain... so cliche and weakly done, but oh well...

It is true that the story has some weak elements, things which could be improved but I could overlook the more negative details or the ones I wish had been done differently, because the story was engaging, there were enough situations, even the ones which went on and on and on..., simply because this was entertaining and while so many things are mediocre but boring, this at least caught my attention and now I do wish to read the next story.
Grade: 7/10

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