Publication Date: March 1, 1998
In Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens, Honoria Weatherby is a governess in Regency England. When she finds herself compromised by the dangerously dark Devil Cynster, he shocks everyone by asking for her hand in marriage. Not even those who know Devil best think he’ll go through with the wedding. Honoria has no intention of tying herself down to a man. She’s looking for adventure. When a Cynster cousin is murdered she vows to find the killer and then head into the wide world for a taste of the unknown. Can she deny her growing attraction to Devil and would she trade attraction for what she always thought she wanted?Devil’s Bride is the first in a series of Cynster novels now reaching over twenty installments.
The first Regency romance I ever read was by Stephanie Laurens. The novel was the tenth in the Cynster series and titled The Perfect Lover. I found the novel in a used bookstore and it looked interesting but took me a long while to pick up and read. After reading the story of aristocratic Simon and his childhood friend, Portia, I was hooked and happily sought out the rest of series.
While Devil’s Bride is technically a romance, it does have mystery and thriller elements. Devil and Honoria meet over the body of Devil’s dying cousin. Because Honoria tried to save the cousin’s life and failed, she feels a vested interest in seeing the mystery to the end. As appropriate to the genre, she’s young and as is typical a bit foolhardy and perhaps not so aware of the perils of the time to her gender. Despite her naivety, Honoria, having lost her parents, is responsible for a young brother and while heading off into the wild blue yonder is a nice idea, is it ever a feasible idea? Honoria is loyal and brave and ready to conquer her limited world.
Devil, as typical with men of the genre, has seen too much. Life has a certain harsh reality to which he’s become accustomed. A point of this author’s writing that I respect most is embodied within the Devil character. Never does he deviate from who she establishes him to be. I don’t consider it a spoiler to tell you that while most Regency males at some point fall to their knees with exclamations of love, that is never Devil. He is strong, he is proud and he is someone that we believe Honoria would not only come to desire sexually but to admire. Honoria, for her part, serves a purpose for Devil. He knows that he must marry and he’s left it too long already. From the start, Honoria’s practical bravery attracts him and Laurens writes the characters with a descriptive elegance. As the first in the series, we never truly lose touch with this endearing couple, so I can tell you that the consistency and affection with which they’re written is impressive. Devil is not my favorite Cynster by a long shot, but he is the one who is written with perhaps the most weight of responsibility. Though fairly young, he is the leader. He has a responsibility and a legacy and one that reads as very male in a genre where men can frequently read as written as who we want them to be and not who they are.
Laurens’s character building is impressive but is nothing next to the craftsmanship of her plots. While the end result of the novel is apparent from the moment the reader faces the romance section and chooses the book from the shelf, the charm is all in how they get there. Laurens’s settings are detailed and play well to the insular plotline. Everything is happening within a framework that could only be set in the world of historical fiction and be believed.While romance tends to be a genre of guilty pleasures, some readers consider these type of books as the lower tier of fiction and not worthy of their time, therefore missing out on authors like Laurens, who is a master of the craft of writing romance. While the ending is assured, the mystery is to be solved. Are you up to the task?
If you’re looking for a romantic read for Valentine’s Day with action, adventure and drool-worthy men, Devil’s Bride is a novel not to be missed.
You can read an excerpt and buy Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens on