Friday, September 12, 2008

Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Book Description from Amazon:
Governess Honoria Wetherby is determined not to marry; she plans to have adventures among the Egyptian pyramids in lieu of wedding a controlling husband. But even the best-laid plans can run afoul of luck and outrageous fortune, as is fatefully proven one stormy evening when Honoria happens upon a dying young man in the woods. After passing the night in a cottage alone with the corpse and his cousin, the rakish and very much alive Devil Cynster, it's decided -- by the handsome rake -- that Honoria has been compromised by the unchaperoned evening and the only remedy is to marry. Despite her flat refusal, Devil is determined to have the beautiful and feisty governess; his family is overjoyed that he's finally planning to marry. But Devil definitely has his work cut out for him as he attempts to convince Honoria to wed him and forego her plans for adventure. Luring Honoria to the altar is further complicated when she insists upon aiding him in the search for his cousin's killer. Which will Devil accomplish first: seducing Honoria or unveiling a murderer? Or will Honoria foil the first plan and solve the second before Devil can?

Devil's Bride is the first of several novels by Laurens that feature the members of the noble Cynster family in Regency England. The larger-than-life hero is bold, brave, daring, and determined and meets his perfect match in the heroine, who is plucky, intelligent, practical, and wise. Lush sensuality, deft plotting, and charming secondary characters make this novel a stellar beginning for the Bar Cynster series. --Lois Faye Dyer

This was my first Stephanie Laurens book. I'd heard a lot of about her books and what a popular series this was. In fact, I hear the audio book of this particular romance novel is great, but I couldn't get my hands on it. In any case, it was a good read, one I'd characterize as a regency romantic suspense novel-heavy on the sex - in fact almost over the top.

I can't say this is your usual heroine. Honoria is her own woman at age 24 she decides she will never marry. She has her reasons which we find out has to do with a terrible accident in which her parents were killed in a rain storm (thus leading up to that old chestnut of sleepwalking and nighmares during thunderstorms.) Orphaned, she is well set up, money is not a worry, and she comes from an old aristocratic family. She has hired herself out as a "finishing" governess. Not that she needs the money, but it's something to do until she goes to Africa, which is her ambition to walk among the pyramids and the Great Sphinx. That is until she stumbles upon a dying body and the Duke of St. Ives - Devil Cynster.

Devil is an alpha male in the Regency English style. Impeccably attired, handsome with a swarthy pirate look about him, he is also an eligible bachelor - a duke no less! What more could you want? Oh, he has the reputation for being a rake, and it's common knowlege he's an expert at seduction and pleasuring his bed partners. Rather than having this become an uncomfortable topic later on in the book between Devil and Honoria, it's never dwelled upon, and if it's alluded to, it's more in a matter of - this is how Devil got so good at what he does - he's had slews of lovers and has mastered his technique. I must admit, I found it a bit jarring and couldn't help wondering if he is the kind of man that can remain true to his duchess once he's been married for 10 years or so? We're left to believe he's besotted with her, but it's not a given he'll remain faithful forever - his father didn't.

Honoria and Devil meet unexpectedly when a murder has taken place. The victim is a young cousin of Devil's and the rest of the book is spent searching for the murderer. They have a sleepwalking romantic interlude in a cabin during a thunderstorm (in the same room with his dead cousin's body which I found pretty creepy - hence she's asleep, otherwise who'd want to fool around with a corpse nearby?) As far as the murderer goes - it's not very hard to figure out who did it - I guessed immediately - but it's a novel way for the two of them to meet and get to know one another better, rather than at a ball or an "at home." Devil decides he is going to marry her immediately and sets out on making her "his." It's fun and the sexual tension is great leading up to the penultimate moment of when they finally do the deed (unmarried!) They actually wind up having so much sex before they're married, that it's a bit anti-climatic by the time their wedding night rolls around - - been there done that. In my opinion, the book was better before they got married, still I was relieved that it did not turn into a 'how Devil turns Honoria into his love slave' plotline.

Once they're married, the search for the killer picks up, but it's not all that exciting, since you pretty much have figured out who it is. You'd have to be a complete idiot not to know, she really hits you over the head with clues to his identity. I was actually hoping that it was a ploy to make us think we knew who did it - and then fake us out and have it a complete surprise at the end. But, alas, that was not the case. I like all the characters in the book. We meet Devil's cousins and brother (of which there are others books about) and mother. I'll be interested in all of their stories.

All in all, this was a fun and sexy read, but I found it dragged at times, and some of the flowery language used in the sex or kissing scenes got a little old. But, it was an original plot with some suspense - although I've realized if I'm going to read a Regency Romance novel, I'm not after suspense like this one, I'm into comedy and fluff. Don't get me wrong, there were some amusing parts in this book, but mostly it was all about the premarital sex and more sex, and more sex that went on and on for several pages. If that's what you like, you'll like this book. For me, it was good up to a point and then just got old, but it won't stop me from reading the rest of the series! *grin*



Jessica said...

Not sure how I missed this one. Great review, I am in agreement with almost all of it!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Just checked yours out too - we're both in agreement! So much of what you brought up was so right!

Related Posts with Thumbnails