Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter is the third in a series of books on a group of women who call themselves ‘the Wallflowers’ in 19th-century London. Evangeline Jenner appears on the doorstep of the notorious rake Sebastian St. Vincent one night – UNCHAPERONED – and makes a request Sebastian could never have seen coming. Evangeline (“Evie”) has been ill-treated by her relations who now see her father’s impending death from consumption as an opportunity to force Evie into marrying her corpulent cousin Eustace (I think that’s his name, it’s something Chester-Molester-y like that) so they can control the fortune Evie will inherit as her father’s sole heir. Due to events discussed in another Wallflowers novel, Evie is well aware that Sebastian is desperate to marry a wealthy heiress; his father has laid waste to the family coffers. So, she makes a proposal: she will agree to a marriage of convenience with Sebastian. His family’s money problems will be solved and she’ll be protected from her father’s unscrupulous relations. She agrees to consummate the marriage once to ensure it cannot be annulled, but beyond that, she refuses to become yet another notch in Sebastian’s notorious bedpost.
I haven’t read that many romances in my life; I can count them on two hands I am sure. I mention this because I know that I don’t have much to compare it to but I found Kleypas’ third Wallflower book delightful and cast with one of the best couples I’ve read yet. Evangeline Jenner is painfully shy because of a stutter and not quite part of high society because her father runs a gambling club. Her marriage prospects are dim, as a result, and she has little self-confidence to change this. She realizes that she can be strong and makes the daring decision to align herself to the most despicable womanizer in London just to escape the violent hatred of her aunt and uncle who may or may not be planning to kill her once her inheritance arrives. As the novel continues we witness Evie growing increasingly confident in her decisions and feelings and she really starts to become anything BUT a wallflower.
Who am I kidding though, right? The absolute best part of this whole book is Sebastian. What this may or may not say about me, I don’t know. I think I’m safe in assuming that we all (at least those of us who swing that way) can’t resist a man like Sebastian. Swoon! Tall? Check. Gorgeous eyes? Check. Fantastic in bed? Check. Could care less about you? Check! Sure some/most of us do grow out of it but there is something so attractive about the man who is not good for you at all. It’s why we love Sawyer, Eric Northman, Spike, etc. Sebastian can go on this list. I don’t know what else to say except he’s the best, and I’ve always enjoyed that name.
There are some minor characters that appear who I’ve met in other of Kleypas’ work; I enjoy how she has built an entire community. The threat to the main couple does seem a little bit of a stretch, but the violence involved does speed up the process by which our favorite libertine Sebastian realizes what he truly feels for his new wife. The sex is pretty hot as well. I’ll probably pick up more Kleypas when next I’m at the library. I do have another already on the nightstand so I’m sure it’ll be my Memorial-Day-lounging-by-the-lake read. Also, thanks MrsJulien for directing me to Sebastian. I’m definitely going to look for him in her other books.