Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-237187-4
Historical Romance, 2017
No, no, that’s Devil in Winter. This one is Devil in Spring, and yes, it’s related to that other book. As the third book in the The Ravenals series, this one is also related to the previous two books by the author. Unfortunately, if you are not a big fan of those books, you are going to feel like that odd one out in a party, with you standing in that corner, awkwardly trying to look like you’re busy with your phone and, really, you totally could mingle if you want to, but you’re just too cool for this school, and you’re just secretly counting the minutes until you can run home and break down into tears.
This is also the book which had me staring at the screen for the last twenty minutes, wondering how on earth I am going to review something that leaves me utterly, stone cold bored out of my mind. Let me see if I can put this in a nicer way: maybe I’m being unfair, but reading this awkwardly stilted and clumsy story has me wondering whether the author had her heart in this one while she was writing it. This one isn’t a story as much as it is just… buzzwords. Marketing buzzwords, tropes, things that have been known to move books into hands of romance readers… this one is a pastiche of all these things, but without anything that stands out in my mind.
Our heroine Pandora Ravenal is like a kitchen sink crammed with these clichés. She doesn’t want to marry because she wants to be an independent lady, and she likes to walk around complaining that everyone is boring (tell me about it), pouting and being petulant because no one’s calling her the new Emma Watson. When she is compromised, thanks to her latest “I’m an independent woman who can do whatever I want, so there, and besides, I’m, like, totally a bluestocking and hence should be exempt from all rules of the Ton… WHAT? I HAVE TO MARRY BECAUSE I AM COMPROMISED? BUT I’M A WALLFLOWER WHO IS GOING TO SOMEHOW BEDAZZLE THE WORLD WITH MY GENIUS SO OH NO, I WILL NEVER… OH, STOP THAT, DON’T… OOH, THAT’S SO HOT, PUT IT IN ME AGAIN, BUT REMEMBER, I AM A SMART AND INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO WILL NEVER LOVE YOU BECAUSE… OOH, OOH, OOH, BUT DON’T YOU DARE THINK I AM GAGGING FOR PEE-PEE IN SUCH A SLUTTY WAY BECAUSE I AM A LADY!” nonsense, and has to marry our hero Gabriel, Lord St Vincent. He’s not sure that she’s the kind of wife she wants, but she’s so hot, and really, the “marriage of convenience awkwardness” thing is quickly gotten rid of as these two start slobbering over one another. All of Pandora’s angst about all the women who are independent throwing up their hands at her is pushed aside as she pushes eagerly onto her new reason for living.
It was as hot as a fire-iron, and nearly as hard. The skin was satiny and fever-colored, and judging from the way he shivered, intensively sensitive. Fascinated, she dared to fondle up and down the shaft, and molded her fingers over the tight-mounded weights below.
Oh my god, that is just hilarious. That thing is hot, hard, satiny, tight, and weighted down with tight mounds. I’m sure it wiggles and sings too.
In fact, this book could have easily been a parody of the author’s previous books.
For example, this one starts with a prologue that is basically the couple from the previous book demonstrating how awesome they are. That heroine of that previous book washes her own grandkids and even offers to throw away the dirty bathwater! Instead of being pleased that the lady of the house is clearly the sort that does all the housework by herself, the maid is like, oh no, you are so awesome my lady, but… oh, if you insist, you can continue showing the world that no matter how rich you are, you are still a noble, humble lady at heart. And then, her hubby shows up, they say some nonsense, and then it’s time to shag! Because, you know, it is very important for readers to know that, even when these two are pushing 350, he can still muster a fifty-foot erection and her hoo-hoo is as still orgasmic and fantastically receptive as ever. I won’t be surprised if Granny turns up pregnant in the next book, if there’s going to be one, because readers really need to know that the geriatric duo is still having the best sex ever, better than any other mortal could dream of having, so if you haven’t bought that book yet, you totally should, as that book contains the best penetration to ever lead to an orgasm ever. Oh, and this prologue is one of the most pointless and eye-rolling example of cringe-filled fanservice nonsense ever.
And then we have Pandora who, in addition to being a clumsy kitchen sink of all the tired tropes associated to romance heroines of this sort, is also special. No, no, that couple sneaking off to those dark places during a party are not having an affair, they are having a rendezvous, and since our heroine knows that rendezvous is French for “meeting”, they can’t be having an affair. Like I said, truly special. The hero is amused. Then again, the hero also thinks that the heroine is awesome, special, smart, talented, hot, sexy, multi-orgasmic, the best peen cushion ever, while all I see is a tired old bag of overused clichés trying very hard to make ignorance and obstinacy “cute”. As for the hero, well, you know how he is. He has some angst, which seems to be an excuse for him to penetrate the heroine as often as possible, and our heroine fortunately turns out to be a natural in doing all that acrobatic shag-me-I-can-take-it-YES-YES-YES thing. So, his “dark sexual needs” turn out to be more of a “this is how the author fulfills the need to pad the pages with something, anything”.
Oh, and they also play with crabs. No, silly, we are talking about those crabs that you can find at the beach. A pity. A crab infestation in their crotches would have made things more interesting.
What else is there? Oh yes, Pandora makes board games. So, in the end, she gets her board game made and sold, thus pushing forward the feminism movement by fifty years and paving the way for women everywhere to smash the patriarchy. What else, what else… Pandora has ear problems, and do you know that you can drastically reduce tinnitus and vertigo by rinsing your ears daily with antiseptic solution and applying nitrate of silver to the… uh, let me quote the book, “the edges of the perforation, to stimulate growth of new tissue”. This is so much sexier than WebMD, I tell you. Oh, and Gabriel works to strike off the word “obey” from the marriage vows because we ain’t down with that toxic masculinity crap, oh no, and he shows her that she is good at the waltz. I think I have better stop now before I send everyone reading this review into an overexcited swoon.
The characters are dull and they don’t even seem like people, just overused tropes served up again without even a cursory warming up to keep things palatable. Suspense is non-existent because these characters have very obvious plot armors and they have obvious safety nets in the form of powerful relatives and BFFs. So is there a point to reading this book? I don’t know, and my mind is too numb from boredom to care. I suppose Devil in Spring will be good for fans of the series who don’t mind paying $7.99 to be assured that their favorite characters are still having sex like explosive waterspouts all the way and back; everyone else will have to just either dig in or move on to something else more to his or her liking.