(The Ravenels, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
An eccentric wallflower…
Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.
A cynical rake…
After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.
A perilous plot…
After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…
Like every other Lisa Kleypas fan, I was so excited when I discovered that the hero of this book is Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, the son of one of her most beloved couples, Sebastian and Evie from DEVIL IN WINTER. My expectations were obviously high and I’m happy to say that, apart from a couple of niggles, I loved it.
The Prologue was just delightful and it was wonderful seeing Sebastian and Evie still so in love even after 30 years of marriage and Sebastian has lost none of his devilment.
“The rest of the world can wait,” Sebastian said firmly. “I’m going to debauch you for the ten thousandth time, Evie – and for once, I want you to pay attention.”
“Yes, sir,” she said demurely, and looped her arms around her husband’s neck as he carried her to their bedroom.
Gabriel has clearly inherited traits from both his parents; handsome, witty, astute, charming and worldly like his father and kind, understanding and compassionate like his mother. As heir to a dukedom, he takes his responsibilities seriously, having assumed management of many of the family’s business interests at a young age. He is well aware of the expectations of others and carries the constant burden of having to maintain the perfect image. However, there is another side to him…his darker sexual appetites which his married mistress is more than happy to fulfil.
For the past two years, Nola had fully indulged Gabriel’s every desire, their encounters unhindered by morals or inhibitions. She always knew when to push the limits farther, coming up with new tricks to spark his interest and satisfy his complex desires
One of my niggles is that Ms. Kleypas never explores this aspect of Gabriel’s character in any real depth and, to me, it seemed like a contrived way of making Gabriel seem less than perfect.
By having Pandora suffering from ADHD, Ms. Kleypas has created a delightfully quirky, adorable heroine who is impulsive, spirited, creative and ambitious. A conventional life has no appeal at all for her and marriage is not on the cards. Pandora plans to support herself and live independently by becoming a business woman and marketing her new board game. I love her habit of making up words, such as calling the elaborate wooden curls and twists carved into the back of the settee, in which she gets her dress caught, swirladingles.
Pandora and Gabriel seem the most unlikely couple but Ms. Kleypas makes the romance work so beautifully. It is such a captivating blend of witty banter, heated kisses and tender, sensual love scenes. I love how Ms Kleypas imbues their romance with lovely touches of humour and this is one of my favourites exchanges:
“Are you thinking about the Queen?” he heard Pandora ask eventually, while the engorged length of his shaft throbbed vehemently between them. “Because if you are, it’s not working.”
Gabriel’s lips twitched at the helpful observation. He replied with his eyes still closed. “With you sitting on me in that sweet little nightdress, it wouldn’t matter if the Queen were standing in this room with a contingent of guards in full uniform.”
I also love it when Gabriel is whispering all the things he wants to do to Pandora but he’s whispering into her bad ear and she can’t hear him!
I loved meeting Sebastian and Evie’s other children and Ms. Kleypas portrays the loving relationship between the family so well. I was especially intrigued by Gabriel’s caustic older, widowed sister, Phoebe, and do hope she gets a Happy Ever After. Dr. Garrett Gibson and detective Ethan Ransome, who were both in Marrying Winterborne, make an appearance. I also loved seeing my favourite Wallflower hero, Westcliff, in a cameo role.
My other niggle concerned the dramatic event in the last quarter of the book. It seemed totally unrelated to the rest of the story and more like a plot device to highlight a possible future hero and heroine. However, my niggles in no way spoiled my enjoyment of the book.
MY VERDICT: Enchanting, romantic, sexy and funny – a winning combination.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
The Ravenels series to date (click on the book covers for more details):