SO let’s just start this by saying I’m an asshole who used to judge Romance. Not romance, like flowers and candy (except don’t ever buy me either, please) but Romance with a capital R. The Romance with the swooning damsels and charming rakes and heaving bosoms and covers like this:
I judged the shit out of it. Starting when I was a kid and I first noticed my mom’s drugstore paperback Harlequin novels lying around. UGH I would exclaim WHY DON’T YOU JUST READ A REAL BOOK.
(I told you I was an asshole.)
LITTLE DID I KNOW that Romance novels were really just lots of different versions of Jane Austen novels, only Mr. Darcy and Lizzie get to bang.
(I know there are Romance novels that take place in other time periods but those aren’t my favorites.)
A few years ago, I kept seeing many of you fine people posting reviews of Romance novels, the covers of which were covered in ladies in frilly dresses and dudes in VERY LITTLE. WHAT IS HAPPENING? I thought. All of these clever people are reading these romance novels…should I?
Yes, I should. So I did. I started with some Courtney Milan, which was a VERY GOOD CHOICE (thank you all), and blew through all of those. I then just read whatever romance novels Malin had given three or more stars (which is a good rule of thumb for all books, really). I don’t know when or how I stumbled upon the Lisa Kleypas Wallflowers series but MY DUDES thank you to whoever posted about The Devil in Winter. I found the other Wallflowers novels to be pretty tepid in terms of the Romance with a capital R (though I did enjoy reading about the Wallflowers’ friendship), but I’ve read The Devil in Winter three times now. Why do I keep coming back to it? I WILL TELL YOU.
- Evie! Our heroine. She’s quiet and unassuming and has a stutter when she’s nervous but super comes into her own, yeah?
- Friends! Everyone is so lovely! And helpful! And I love them!
- A marriage of convenience turning into (spoiler alert) a love match! I love those!
- Cam! Just trying to make his way through a crazy, uptight, racist world.
- Motherfucking Sebastian! I was super skeptical about how Kleypas would undue the shitty things he did in the previous novel but goddamn if this wasn’t an all out tale of redemption.
(It turns out that Sebastians are almost always the heroes of the best novels of a series? Because if you don’t think The Countess Conspiracy from Milan’s Brothers Sinister series is the best one, we’re fighting now? Sorry but not really.)
So, right, the book. Evie’s father is dying, and she’s been left to grow up with her despicable family, who treats her like shit and just wants her money. She comes up with a scheme, to run away and marry the terrible rake, Lord St. Vincent, who needs money (which she has) and can protect her from her family (which he does). Sebastian agrees because, again, he needs the money and finds Evie strangely intriguing. They run away to Gretna Green, get married, and go back to take care of Evie’s dad on his deathbed.
Evie’s father owns a gentleman’s club, and Sebastian takes an interest in running the business, which surprises everyone, himself included. There are lots of obstacles and intrigues thrown in their way, but SPOILER ALERT AGAIN it turns out they end up super loving each other and everyone is so happy and lovely THE END.
Moral of the story? Don’t be an asshole. Unless your name is Sebastian.