I like everything Lisa Kleypas writes but this 3rd book in the Ravenel series, “Devil in Spring,” is especially fun. Readers of this series will remember the unexpected and erotic romance of the former Lord St. Vincent, Sebastian, now the Duke of Kingston, and his Duchess Evangeline (Evie). The new Lord St. Vincent in this book is their oldest son and heir, Gabriel.
Like his father before him, Gabriel is a bit of a “devil” and has a bit of a reputation as a ladies’ man. At a posh event he comes across a young lady, Pandora Ravenel, in an awkward situation in a summer house. As far-fetched as it sounds, she was seeking a lost an earring and in attempting to find it ended up stuck in the woodwork of the settee. Gabriel hears her distress and comes along and attempts to help her out of the situation. Unfortunately, someone else comes along and finds them in what appears to be an erotic situation.
Of course, being found alone with a male in the late 1880s, let alone in a summer house, was enough to mean a marriage proposal. In this case, Pandora simply wasn’t interested in marrying Gabriel. In fact, she didn’t want to marry anyone.
A feminist long before her time, Pandora wants to be independent and manage her own business, which is designing, manufacturing and marketing a board game. The thing is, while middle and lower class women had to work in in 1876, upper class women not only didn’t but were ridiculed if they did.
In that kind of environment, free time was spent on such activities as house parties and balls. With the result that there were always activities needed to keep everyone happy and busy. And, board games fit that need — particularly for rainy days.
Anyway, the plot in this novel is three-fold: Gabriel trying to change Pandora’s mind to marry him and Pandora’s quest for financial independence. The third thread is about Gabriel loving Pandora precisely because she was “different.”
If I have any complaints about this novel, which are not serious ones of course, it is that Gabriel’s fight to win Pandora’s hand went on a bit longer than I felt necessary. Since the cover of the book shows a young woman in a wedding dress, readers can guess the outcome.
And, so, to my mind, regardless of the outcome, what is important about this book is to what extent Pandora had to struggle to be her own person — something we take for granted now. At that time, in the late 19th century, when a woman married, absolutely everything went to her husband. Everything. She “owned” nothing. What Gabriel does, and I found especially interesting, is just how far he had to go legally to give his wife some control over her own money. Kleypas did an excellent job in covering the common laws that he and Pandora would have to work around.
I highly recommend this historical romance, which I was able to borrow from my local public library, and give it 4 stars out of 5.
Published by Avon in February 2017
(275 pages minus Author’s notes).