Move over, Craven! Here’s a Kleypas hero who moves me in ways you never did.
For those who haven’t read this, Devil in Winter is the ONE BOOK in the Wallflower series that you MUST NOT MISS!! It was definitely worth my forgoing sleep just to finish it … right after I rushed through It Happened One Autumn.
When I first started reading the Wallflower series, I was intrigued by shy, unassuming Evangeline Jenner (Evie to her friends) even without knowing her parentage. Then, after I got round to reading Dreaming of You, and got acquainted with Ivo Jenner, I began to look forward to reading about her adventure. Little did I imagine that her story, with a straightforward plot angle of pairing an impoverished lord with an heiress on the fringe of society, would be the best in the series.
The bad-boy-turned-hero, Sebastian, was every bit as delicious a character as the heroine, the deceptively timid Evie who has a hull of ballast beneath her submissive appearance. Sebastian teases and delights with his irreverent remarks and outrageously explicit pillow talk meant to shock Evie out of her shyness. She gave as good as she took, not batting an eyelid at some of his flippant comments and responding with smart retorts, which gives Sebastian a glimpse of her intelligence, making him value her more.
I also admire how Sebastian took charge of the club and rose up to the challenge of running and taking it to new heights. He was compared to Craven by an old patron of the club, I think this was on opening night. I’ve suspected that beneath that cavalier façade he cultivates, there’s a man with a heart of gold waiting to do some good ere he passed from this world. Didn’t they say reformed rakes make the best husbands in romance bookland? Anyway, this rakehell convert does.
Evie and Sebastian are soooooo perfectly matched, and the chemistry between them is so palpable and magnetic it made me read the book twice over, just so I could remember every significant encounter between this unlikely pair of lovers. Such as their first meeting when they strike the deal, the short but rather comical marriage ceremony presided by a blacksmith-turned-priest, Sebastian’s introduction to Evie’s sickly father, his rescue of her from her relatives shortly after Ivo’s death and many more.
I like how Kleypas kept the sizzle between them fanning even hotter as the story progresses, their feelings for each other became evident even no confessions of love were heard until almost
until the very end. I daresay this is one of the few books where both hero and heroine found favour with me. Usually, I will invariably find one of them stronger and more engaging.
Some of the more memorable scenes were their wedding night, Ivo’s funeral, their striking a bargain (for Sebastian to remain celibate for six months), the kiss in the hazard room, the very naughty kiss in the billiard room (hmmm … playing billiards takes on an entirely new meaning after this).The scene where Sebastian took a bullet meant for Evie on the night of the club’s reopening was the pivotal scene, as the near assassination saw their bond and connection to each other strengthen in subsequent chapters, that IMO came to be the best part of the book for me. I was in turn touched by the deepening of their feelings for each other, and warmed by the staunch friendship Westcliff and Lillian extended to the couple.
I thought after Nick Gentry, it’d be hard for me to find another hero to match that enigma. Well, it seems that at long last, here comes another Kleypas hero who’s not just swoon worthy — I’d willingly lose sleep over him! And the bonus is, the gutsy heroine is every bit as gripping as the hero. PLUS, big plus, there’s a hint of who Daisy will end up with … exotic and enigmatic Cam Rohan. From their first encounter, this looks like another delicious scandal brewing.
Well, what more could a romance fan ask? Is it any wonder that I’m gushing?