Sunday, March 12, 2006
The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Warning - contains "semi"-spoliers *g*
This is by far the best of the Wallflower series so far. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is the best book that Lisa Kleypas has written since Worth Any Price (and for a good while before that). The Devil in Winter reeks of Kleypas' past style of writing (see directly below for JenniferB's take on Dreaming of You and the comments attached and you will know what I mean). Devil in Winter has a rough, unapologetically nasty hero (Lord St. Vincent, the villain from It Happened One Autumn) and a heroine that you would expect to be a pushover, who becomes unexpectedly strong. Supporting characters you care about. And it invokes memories of ... Derek Craven. Everywhere. Begin with the fact that our heroine, Evie, is Ivo Jenner's daughter. We visit with Ivo Jenner on his deathbed. Almost the entire book takes place in Jenner's gaming club. And St. Vincent ends up running Jenner's club following Jenner's death, causing all sorts of comparisons, even among the book's characters, to Derek Craven. I loved it!
As we watch Sebastian struggle with his feelings for Evie, it is eerily reminiscent of the same helplessness that Derek Craven struggled with as he fell in love with Sara Fielding (and that I loved so much with Nick in WAP as well) - spiraling out of control, losing the sense of self and selfishness that rules his life, becoming so vulnerable that he must send Evie away in order to protect his sense of being.
Luckily for us, somewhere between Autumn and Winter, Evie grew a backbone, and no one is more surprised than she is. While the other wallflowers were explored/introduced in the first two books, Evie really remained an enigma. We find out why in this book, and it really isn't pretty. But it does serve as a reminder to Sebastian that life does not revolve around him, and again is a stepping stone for the two of them to draw strength from one another. Evie becomes a source of awe (and frustration) for Sebastian as he observes her strength and watches her grow and blossom into her own woman. She, in turn, draws her strength from his support.
Like many other Kleypas fans, although I have enjoyed her recent books, I have been less than enthralled by them. With The Devil in Winter, I think she has recaptured that spark, that special something that makes her books truly noteworthy... not just another formulaic historical.
And on that note, I am leaving historicals for a bit and moving back to contemporaries for a while. Anne just sent me one that looks great! Anyone read Susan Rae's debut novel Heartbeats? My true love - romantic suspense :) And I still have Rachel Gibson's latest. ... oh and I do have one other historical on my plate still, Julianne MacLean's latest - another unredeemable villain to redeem... So many books, so little time... sigh