This book was a surprise. I read the first book in the series (The Trouble with Honor), and was pleasantly entertained by the author’s ability to tap into a genre in which so many seem to be recycling stories and create something that stands apart from the masses. Julia London has outdone herself again with The Devil Takes a Bride and offered up another unique lady alongside a very special male lead character. In the historical genre, I think readers come to expect well-developed men that are full of themselves or their station to a fault, and the female lead comes along to snap them into line with the two complementing each other in the end. I did not find this to be the case with the latest in London’s The Cabot Sisters series.
Grace is unique among her sisters, but none of the Cabot girls are what society or a reader would consider a cookie cutter character. With their mother deteriorating mentally and the clock ticking down to society discovering the flaw in the family line, the oldest girls are desperate to secure the future. With the youngest sisters and their mother to consider along with the impending wedding of their stepbrother, the situation is looking pretty dire. Grace is desperate enough to snare what could be a passable husband using underhanded techniques, but manages to entrap the gentleman’s unbending brother instead.
The Earl of Merryton has worked hard to build up walls to protect his family and the family name against the scandals rife in society with little help from his ne’er do well brother. After a horrible upbringing, one might say that Jeffrey developed quite a few coping mechanisms which led to peculiarities in adulthood. This young and beautiful wife who is forced upon him is going to be nothing but trouble. Grace threatens his schedules, the structure of his life, and the very vital faultless status of his family name. With his brother causing trouble of an epic nature once again and Grace shaking the very foundation of his sanity, Jeffrey fears that he might slip and give in to the dark urgings which have overshadowed his life since reaching maturity. Will Grace finally cross the line and be put out of her husband’s home? Will Jeffrey break her, or worse?
Romance fans who are looking for a fresh take on a male lead and the historical romance story itself will appreciate this story. I read 75% the first night and only stopped because I passed out. No worries, though, I finished it the next morning as soon as I woke up. The male lead was so well written with all his flaws and problems, and despite the mad props that are given to these goddesses of romance I am continually awed by their skill with each story I finish. The series is amazing, but this book stands alone quite well. I expect it to make some serious waves when the call for 2015 award recommendations comes out.