Published by Avon on February 19, 2019
“Phoebe had never met West Ravenel, but she knew one thing for certain: He was a mean, rotten bully.”
FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. I finished in in one sitting (stayed up late at night) and then immediately began to re-reading passages. Phoebe and West are so sweet and sexy together, and I loved the story of West having to overcome his past — mostly in forgiving himself and trusting in the future.
THE STORY: Phoebe, Lady Clare, is a widow with two small children. When her family attends her brother’s wedding, Phoebe encounters West Ravenel who she has never met but knows all about. West was the childhood bully of Phoebe’s beloved husband. Despite Phoebe’s dislike of West’s actions, she can’t help but be attracted to the charming West. West realizes that his past makes him completely unworthy of Phoebe even as he cannot stop thinking about her.
OPINION: The story of two people who have an instant connection, but any romance is threatened by West’s past. I loved this book and the characters, and it will be one that I will put on my keeper’s shelf.
West Ravenel is a man who is just beginning to put his life right. In the two years since he has taken over managing his brother’s estate West have been seen by all as a compassionate, intelligent, thoughtful and hardworking man. But West has a past. Before finding his purpose, West was a wastrel on all accounts. He drank too much, slept with too many women, caused fights and generally just behaved poorly. When he meets Phoebe, he sees her as completely above him. What she needs is a decent man who will be good to her sons and will be a role model. West knows that he cannot be that man because of his past.
Phoebe is a widow with two young sons. She married the love of her life, her childhood friend, and now out of mourning, she is ready to return to the family estate and protect her son’s legacy. When she meets West at her brother’s wedding, she is determined not to like him because he was the bully of her husband when they were children. But Phoebe cannot help but see the good in West — his kindness with her children, his respect for her intelligence by being willing to teach her about estate management.
This story is really about West and his demons and his inability to see himself clearly. He knows what he has done in his past and he cannot bring himself to forgive his own actions. To West, he is always on the precipice of being the drunk, bully, untrustworthy man he was. I loved seeing so many other people try and make West see that he is worthy of being loved, of having a full life with a wife and family of his own.
Readers of the Ravenels series know of West’s journey. Through the four prior books, he has become the rock and support of the other characters. I loved seeing him get a happy ending of his own after helping others get theirs.
Another thing that really worked for me here is how Kleypas shows West as a supporter of Phoebe’s taking charge of her life and her son’s estate. He supports her — he doesn’t take over and become her protector. Instead, he values her for who she is and acknowledges her opinions and intelligence. Indeed, West’s final capitulation to love in some ways a surrender to Phoebe’s view of him and their possible future.
Phoebe is a woman coming into her own. The death of her beloved husband has changed her and this book is about her finding out who she is going to be. A strong and compassionate woman (who else could the eldest daughter of Sebastian and Evie be), Phoebe was the strength in caring for her ill husband and now she is using that strength to protect her children. Despite her prejudices about West when they meet, she sees who he really is and is willing to put her judgment aside.
This book is also pretty hot between West and Phoebe but everything is grounded deeply in their relationship.
What really tips this book over the top is the number of characters from this series and the Wallflower series that make appearances. This book feels really grounded in the relationships between the characters. I am a sucker for appearances by favorite characters (and we even get a bit of Gabriel and Pandora’s wedding itself).
This series has been a real winner for me, and this book is a great addition.
WORTH MENTIONING: Can I fall even more in love with Sebastian from DEVIL IN WINTER? He is simply adorable at the matchmaking dad here. But he is always the scandalous rake and I love, love, love that Kleypas allows Sebastian and Evie to continue to have a loving and sexual relationship even as grandparents.
CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVIL’S DAUGHTER is the fifth book in the Ravenels series. This book is much better if read as part of the series, but a new reader should also include DEVIL IN WINTER which is from Kleypas’s Wallflowers series. At the very least, a reader should read DEVIL IN WINTER, DEVIL IN SPRING before this book.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.