After five long years where this feature went nowhere, it’s about time I bring back XOXO: Fangirling about Romances. Holy spoilers galore, guys! So be warned!
Initially, it was a joint project with Kelly, but because life hit us, we didn’t continue. Romances are what I consistently am able to read when I’m in a major book reading funk—which is currently, and it feels like this funk has been going on forever. So why not talk about what I liked and didn’t like about the romances I’ve read and reread?
Let’s kick this feature out from the dead by talking about Devil in Spring, the third book in the Ravenel series by Lisa Kleypas. The Ravenel series is in the same universe as the Wallflowers, where you’ll see familiar characters like Sebastian and Evie from Devil in Winter pop up.
An eccentric wallflower…
Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.
A cynical rake…
After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.
A perilous plot…
After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy—and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…
- What’s wonderful about this is that we get to see Sebastian and Evie! Since Gabriel is their son, of course his parents show up, and they are as in love with each other as ever. Their romance is the ideal, and something I imagine that Gabriel strived for.
- I love that Pandora had aspirations to be a business woman who can support herself, and not a wife. She wants to live independently from her own money. She doesn’t want to be tied up in a marriage because whatever she does will be tied up to her husband, and he’ll have all the control. Pandora is not about that.
- The thing I didn’t love is how the writing kept pushing her “eccentric” tendencies. Oh, look at me and my weird habits and look at me defy what’s socially acceptable. I get it! She’s been in the wild for so long that she isn’t quite like the other ladies in society.
- Gabriel is not like his father, but his father’s reputation has certainly overshadowed him—well, specifically his romantic life because you expect this dude to be a womanizer/playboy like his dad, but Gabriel is actually not. He’s quite honorable, and wants to do the right thing. He’s kind of boring, especially if you’re comparing him to his father, so his swoon-worthiness was nonexistent. He’s described as something he’s not, and this book just doesn’t develop his character into a complex one.
- Gabriel’s relationship with his mistress, a married American woman, before he met Pandora intrigues me. I wished there was a little more exploration on that, but I understand this book isn’t their story.
- Did you feel that chemistry between Pandora and Gabriel? Ehhhh. Not really? I usually can feel the chemistry between characters, but Pandora and Gabriel were lacking in that department. It was just perfectly bland. Gabriel is bland—I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line-up because he just didn’t have anything memorable about him. (It’s been a few days since I’ve finished Devil in Spring, and I can’t remember anything about him aside from 1. his parents are the great Sebastian and Evie, and 2. he had an American mistress.)
- Everything after Pandora said yes to Gabriel was a big fat yawn. I lost interest in Gabriel and Pandora’s romance after they got married because it was quite boring. Yay married life, they love each other, I get it. I was more intrigued by the subplot of what happened at the printers. Now that—that had me interested in what’s going on, and you’d have to read all the books in the Ravenel series to see how it ends.
- I love the bits about the board game and medicine. You can tell Kleypas did a lot of research to make sure it’s accurate for the time this book is set in. Gotta appreciate that.
Have you read Devil in Spring? Did you enjoy this romance? What did you like? Is Gabriel swoonworthy?
p.s. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with this feature—like having a rating chart on swoon worthiness, ridiculousness, plot, etc. It’s something I have to think about, but I just want to talk about the romances I’ve read.