Another book review, you say? Yep, this time I was super fast to read this new awesome book by the last author I read, Lisa Kleypas, who is great at writing historical romance novels. This is the third book of the “Wallflowers” series, and it can be read as a standalone though I would suggest you to read the rest as well to have background story on the characters from the previous books that may appear here and there.
“Devil in Winter” tells the story of the third maid of the wallflower girls, Evangeline “Evie” Jenner, and Lord Sebastian St. Vincent. As you may have noticed, each book is set in a different season. It is finally Winter in London, and Evie Jenner, the shyest and detached of the group, decides to do something she wouldn’t dare to do in a ‘normal’ situation. She goes to Lord St. Vincent, a handsome rake and a viscount who is slowly losing all of his fortune because of the debts of his father. She proposes to the Lord that they get married. After all, she is rich, and they can have a convenience marriage where she will be free from the wrath and malice of her family, and he can still live a lavish life with her dowry. He seems reluctant at first, but then he agrees and they decide to depart to go to Gretna Green, Scotland, that was a sort of Las Vegas of 1800′.
Winter fits so much with the personality of the two protagonists, because despite he is a hot and promiscuous man, St. Vincent is cold-hearted and only thinks of himself, and Evie is a detached and naive woman. Naturally, they are not really cold as they appear to strangers. Sebastian has probably became a rake because he lost his sisters and mother when he was young. I have been influenced to believe that the loss of the feminine figure provokes loss of stability in the life of certain men, that is why some end up going from bed to bed, they are seeking a female counterpart who could “take on” the role of a mother or caretaker, but of course, not only that. Love between Evie and Sebastian seems possible because she, in opposition, longs for a male figure who would not be bored by what she says and would not get tired of her, like a father hasn’t enough of his sons, no matter what happens between them. Evie is a pure woman who offers a proposition to St. Vincent: she will only consummate the marriage once, then she won’t be willing to be used for his pleasures anymore. But that one time is enough to make the rake realize that he is starting to care for the woman, and her wellbeing. Upon learning of what her family did to her, he felt the urge to protect her, but as an original scoundrel, he takes time to realize that he loves her dearly and that his heart would ache non stop if he sends her away.
I believe that the choice of the name “Evangeline”, a woman with burning red hair, that I recall could also mean some with the devil inside (in the past credence, of course), was done on purpose. And the contradiction of St. Vincent, blond like a fallen angel but with a perverse heart, is also to prove the point that appearance deceive. Evie is an angel. She is skilled and smart, and is able to forgive and love greatly, despite that person has hurt her. Sebastian is the devil, disguised behind an appealing face, but with care only for himself, and not even that, it seems. He looks proud, but he despises himself in the end, thinking that he is not worthy of love deep down, but also protecting himself from the love Evie wants to clearly give him. He has a moment of catharsis where he realizes that he is in love with her and that he is willing to be faithful to his wife. Evie, on her side, learns to get stronger and at some point she doesn’t look too timid anymore. It’s the confirmation of her husband’s love other than his desire, that gives her the security she didn’t have before. Yes, her friends ex maids love her too. She may be liked by their husbands Mr Hunt (from book #1) and Lord Westcliff (from book #2), but in a scale the love of a lover comes first. And if that lover doesn’t love you back, your friends may help you cure the heartache, but won’t ever fill the void. The awareness of Sebastian’s love for Evie is a gift, and so is her love for him. Their loved saved both from rooting in hell, since by marrying St. Vincent, Evie avoided to tie the knot with her pig cousin who would’ve wanted none but her fortune from her.
You can tell I loved this book from the words I wrote above… Fact is, the couple with a rake, a playboy, to say it in contemporary terms, is one of my faves. I have a lot of tropes that I look forward too when I read or watch TV, and this is one of them. I love seeing the playboy change his heart when he finds the one. I am enamored with the journey he does when realizes his feelings, how he tries to cope and his defence mechanism, because we are all scared of things we don’t know, and feelings aren’t manageable all the time. I also like strong heroines who start as people who look weak, but that find the strength to win and to feel more secure of themselves. I love couple and characters who mature alone and together, and the characters of this book were one of those, which I didn’t feel with the couple of the previous book.
Sure, I also liked Lord Westcliff and Lilian. He reminded me of Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, which is one of my all-time favorite books from English literature. But there was something in their story that didn’t make me attached to them more than enough to enjoy the plot; I wasn’t passionate towards the characters like I ended up being with Evie and Sebastian. It has been since the first time St. Vincent was mentioned on “It Happened One Autumn“, that he has intrigued me. Mysteries! Haha.
Now, to make me the happiest, there’s only one thing I hope to read in the following two novels that will complete the series. I won’t tell you, though, because it may spoil you part of this story.
What to say, now… I think it’s enough. If my review hasn’t at least pushed you to look more info on this book, I’ll be sad. Kidding! But I hope some of you will read it or have read it and liked it as much as I did. ❤