Devil's Bride, by Stephanie Laurens (Cynsters #1)

>> Monday, November 03, 2003

The first time I read Stephanie Laurens' Devil's Bride I hated it. I really did. I didn't really give up on Laurens after it, and I read Scandal's Bride and A Secret Love after it. The former was not good either, but I did love the latter (unlike everyone else, apparently), so I always thought maybe at one point I'd read something else by Laurens.

Two years later, there have been too many other books I wanted to try, so I didn't buy anything else by her. However, it turns out a friend of mine has the first 6 Cynster books, so I decided to try again and start by rereading Devil's Bride.

To Have...
When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire tom by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England's most eligible bachelor, Devil's infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.

...And To Hold

But Honoria wasn't about to bend society's demands and marry a man "just" because they'd been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she'd go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?
I was very surprised by the fact that I really like it this time around. A B+.

My main objection the first time I read it was that I hated how Devil simply decreed that Honoria was to marry him and refused to respect her opinions and wishes. I've always enjoyed books with a pursuing hero, but this was too much. I thought Devil was too arrogant, too autocratic, too ready to discount Honoria's wishes, too sure of himself, even.

This time, my reaction was different. Yes, at first I found Devil horrible. I was mentally begging Honoria to run from him as fast as she could. However, then things started changing.

First of all, Devil stopped being so irritating at one point. However obnoxious and mulish he was in the beginning about Honoria having to marry him no matter what she wanted, in the end he didn't want to have her come to him pressured, but needed for her to make up her mind freely and to choose to marry him because she wanted to. I liked him much better for it. And the scenes where Honoria tries to tell him she accepts his suit but he refuses to hear her because she can't think straight (guess exactly what they were doing!!), are a hoot ;-)

Also, and what was the most responsible for my enjoyment of the book, was that Honoria was more than a match for Devil. She simply didn't allow herself to be bullied. Devil's dictates were not what made her choose to marry him. Oh, no! She made absolutely sure that it was what she wanted, and only then made her decision.

I liked her thought processes. She was perfectly aware of the fact that she couldn't allow Devil to dominate her, but she didn't run from the challenge. And she realizes that to reject him just because he's trying to pressure her into something, even though it's something she actually wants now, would be to cut off her nose to spite her face. A very sensible attitude, and I really respected her.

The main weakness of the book was the suspense subplot. It did set up the situation, and for long stretches was very unobtrusive, but I must say it was pretty nonsensical, and didn't really add all that much to things.

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