Friday, April 10, 2009
She thought her heart was safe, but…...
Reckless, wild, and beautiful, Lily Lawson delights in shocking proper London society -- and now she is determined to rescue her sister from an unwanted impending marriage to the notorious Alex, Lord Raiford, by fair means or foul. But while she succeeds outrageously, Alex is a master gamesman who is not to be undone.
Alex has lost one bride, yet he is enchanted by this remarkable lady who is willing to break any rule to flaunt her independence. When Lily offers him only scorn, he counters with kindness, and he parries her blistering barbs with gentle words and a soft, tender touch. The spirited miss will pay dearly for her interference -- with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, unyielding heart. But will Alex's own heart be the prize to be won in this sensuous game of love?
I loved this book! I had already heard about it alot, you know how it is... it was one of those early Lisa Kleypas books that I had yet to read because I'd been so absorbed in her later series like the Wallflowers and the Liar's Club. But, still, I was getting so curious about it since so many people have raved about it! Now I know why! It was a really good story, sexy, endearing, sad at times, emotional and different! Just the kind of book I like, and I might add, it's now one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books!
At first when I started reading it, I was a bit confused by the heroine. I wasn't sure if she was the heroine or not, not having read the blurb on the back cover of the book, which I like to do sometimes for the surprise effect. For one thing, she's not your standard virginal, damsel in distress, but, then again, Kleypas' heroines almost never are. She's somewhere around the age of 30, and definitely reckless! Lily Lawson (loved the name, btw) is well born but wears raspberry pink trousers when she rides - astride no less, has cut her hair short so it's a myriad of little ringlets all over her head, is the only female member of the infamous Craven's gambling club (as alluded to later in Devil in Winter) and flaunts propriety every chance she can get. She never wants to marry, yet many men want her, but she doesn't want a man. Scarred previously by being jilted by her fiance and then she is seduced by a slick Italian ne'er do well in Italy (a painful experience she never wants to repeat) who gets her pregnant. Raising her daughter by herself, her daughter is kidnapped by her father and Lily never sees her again! Poor Lily! She tries to find her, hires detectives, but the slimy bastard father keeps their daughter away from her and blackmails Lily for money for two years.
Finally, when Lily is almost at her wits end (and out of money) she meets Alex, Lord Raiford who is engaged to her meek and mild younger sister, Penelope, who is really in love with someone else. Lily can't stand Raiford upon first sight and the feeling becomes mutual. Lily can't stand seeing her sister marry unhappily and helps to break up the engagement and sees to it that Penelope can run off with her true love, Zachary. This ordinarily wouldn't endear her jilted fiance to Lily, but in fact, Alex has already been developing feelings for her of the lustful kind and can't get her out of his head. Lily ties him to her bed and keeps him there (alone) all night so that Penelope and Zachary can run off to Gretna Green together. Lily, despite herself is intrigued by Alex and starts having feelings for him too. Feelings she never thought she'd have for a man.
To get her back for tying him up, Raiford winds up getting the upper hand when the next night, in a daring bet at Craven's, he wins a night with Lily, who lost the bet, desperate to win money to pay her slimy blackmailer. And so with the winning wager, suddenly the book - and Raiford - becomes really interesting! What a night! Very well done, and Alex suddenly takes on a whole new aura! LOL! Not only that, there are so many little details in this book that are great. I love the descriptions of Lily's clothes, especially two outfits in particular. One she's dressed as Eve (as in the Garden of Eden?) at a fancy masquerade at Craven's, and the other is a beautiful black lace gown over a nude underlay - sounds gorgeous!
The dialogue between the two h/h is fast and furious, they're a good match for each other! Lily is so daring and refreshing, it's fun to see what next is going to happen with her. Yet, at the same time, she's carrying this horrible burden around with her about her daughter. You really feel for her.
I won't spoil anymore of the plot, but this is a GREAT read! Raiford is blonde and handsome and strong and virile. At first we don't really like him too much because he comes across as such an ogre, but he definitely grows on you and softens and changes with Lily. By the end of the book you love him as I did with Lily too. I had tears in my eyes. I can't stress enough what a good story this is! It sounds complicated, but when you read it, it flows smoothly and effortlessly.
Kleypas' heroines are generally complicated individuals with many layers to them, they're usually carrying around some baggage from their past as well. Lily is obviously no exception, but I appreciate these characteristics. Her people are more real to me, I sympathize with them and care for them. I think it takes a talented author to do this and get her readers to feel an emotional bond or tug with her characters. Ms. Kleypas does this in spades over and over again.
First in the Gambler's series. The next one involves Derek Craven - should be interesting!