My affection for Lisa Kleypas was slow in arriving. I was generally pleased with Secrets of a Summer Night, my only real drawback being the secondary storyline with the heroine’s mother. Simon and Annabelle were a delight. It Happened One Autumn was a step in the wrong direction for me, while the individual characters of Lillian and Westcliff worked I was bored during the first half and had serious reservations about the characterization of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. Trusting our other romance readers, I kept going, but I was nervous.
Spoilers for book two:
You see, in that book St. Vincent is part of a kidnapping scheme and threatens marital rape in order to get Lillian’s compliance. It was… a problem for me in that book. While I do enjoy that Kleypas writes with more historical accuracy than many of the other romance writers I’ve come across, it doesn’t mean that ALL of the historically accurate things are wanted on the page, or that I felt at all comfortable with the idea that I would be asked, in the very next book, to forgive the character this enormous transgression since all romance books end with a coupled happily ever after.
But somehow, Kleypas made it work. Or I’m a sucker, and I think I’m okay with either answer.
Devil in Winter picks up immediately following the events of It Happened One Autumn, and our third wallflower Evie has decided that the only possible solution to her familial problems is the safety of marriage to St. Vincent, knowing full well what he just attempted. Evie knows it will likely cost her the only friends she has, but her circumstances are that dire. The first two books in the series hint at Evie’s family situation, but this book elucidates the very real problems of being under someone else’s hand and their wishing you only harm and no care for you as an individual with feelings, emotions, or rights. Evie’s stand for herself and the deal she strikes with St. Vincent completely pulled me in to her world, and through her eyes we get the redemption of the epitome of rakes.
I was sold on these two during the very early parts of the novel, as they head to Gretna Green and everything after that point was just bonus points. There was a side plot I could do without and I’m sure on rereads I’ll just skip it entirely. I was however very excited to find out that Cam Rohan appears in the Hathaway series and am even more intent on finishing this series so I can move onto that one next year.
To sum up, Kleypas sets up a romance where each character gets to find the best version of themselves, both leads are sexual equals (not in experience, but in openness and appetite), and secondary characters are developed but do not overtake the plot. And its steamy. SOLD. I was making heart eyes at this book by the end.