March 10, 2017
“How could I be this at ease with him?
Pour out my heart as I please with him?
He isn't you...He isn't you...” Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner
Remember wonderful Sebastian from Devil in Winter? Well, here's his son Gabriel, and he
isn't him. While this isn't as good as the wonderful Devil in Winter, it is a nice try. For me there were a number of things this story had going against it. First of all, it's a Lisa Kleypas and my expectations for Ms. Kleypas are always a tad bit higher than the ones I set for other authors. On top of that, this is about Gabriel, Sebastian's son, and he has a lot to live up to. I feel for him; it's not easy being the son of one of Romanceland top heroes. The magic Sebastian brought us in Devil in Winter is missing in this story. Then there is Pandora.
Pandora is our heroine, and in my opinion she steals the show. I don't think there will be a middle road with this character - either you're going to love her or she's going to get on all of your nerves. Let's see if I can find the words to describe her - peppy and irresistible. Yep, peppy. I think she would probably just roll right over most heroes and in Gabriel's case she does. She is an irresistible force and she was my favorite character in this book. Because she is sooooo adorable it's no wonder Gabriel loses his heart pretty quickly after being caught in a compromising position with her.
While I liked this book, I did have the feeling that Ms. Kleypas may have taken the easy way out and thrown in some danger instead of letting the characters drive the story. The story had the feel of being rushed. Was this from an editor chopping pages out or was Ms. Kleypas still in her contemporary mind-mode? Maybe there wasn't any race to the end. Maybe I just imagined it, but what could have been a great book missed the mark just a little. Pandora was a wonderful character, but Gabriel was almost a shadow, a cardboard personality. We don't really get to know Gabriel, we aren't given enough time inside his brain. What makes him tick? Why does he consider his sexual urges dark? He's Sebastian's son after all, didn't he ever talk to his father about quirky stuff? Anyway, for me his "dark side" didn't add anything to the storyline. Personally, I don't like to feel manipulated or titillated by adding little shades of gray or bondage-trust issues. Unless it's some kind of major issue with one of the characters in the story, I don't see the necessity of adding the tie-my-hands-behind-my-back scenes. Maybe Gabriel’s supposed dark urges were added because he lacked the skin-tingling aura of most of Kleypas' heroes. For me he is the weak part of this story.
Pandora is vivid while Gabriel is flat; they do not balance each other out and that for me is what counts in a romance book. It's not that I didn't like this book; I did. But, it was not one of Lisa Kleypas' best efforts. It had a rushed feel to it or it didn't seem long enough or there wasn't enough character building (especially with Gabriel). It started off great. Pandora and Gabriel's meeting in the very beginning had me rubbing my hands together in glee. But somewhere along the way the momentum was lost.
I give Devil in Spring a weak recommendation.
Time/Place: 1876 England
P.S. Hey - art department! I'm growing weary of modern wedding dresses being used on the covers of historical books. Someone is taking the easy way out. I know you have access to the "real" fashions of the day.