DEVIL IN SPRING by Lisa Kleypas

There's a strong element of predictability in the romance novel genre, as stories head inevitably to the Happily Ever After (HEA) ending -- but that is fairly forced in Devil in Spring, book 3 in the Ravenels by Lisa Kleypas.  This historical romance has opposites attracting for most of the book.

Pandora Ravenel is pushed to go husband-hunting during the London Season, but she has no interest in marrying.  She has the goal of publishing her board game (with the store owner from a previous book pre-ordering 500 copies) and believes, rightly for the time, that marriage would give her husband complete control over all her professional activities.  She tends to go on numerous verbal tangents, invents words, and is almost hyperactive at times.  And an old ear injury leaves her often unsteady (no waltzing) and hard of hearing on her left side.

In the novel's "meet cute," when Pandora is trying to obtain an earring, she gets stuck facing downwards.  When well-known rake Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, tries to help, the pair are discovered, assumed that Gabriel "compromised" Pandora, and also assumed they have to marry to avoid the scandal.  Pandora and Gabriel insist that they're incompatible -- she still has her qualms about relinquishing her freedom, he thinks she's completely unsuitable for handling the duties of marriage -- but the two keep getting tingly when around each other.

And that's the very vast majority of Devil in Spring.  The "we can't be together, but wow are they attractive" gets tired pretty quickly, yet it takes up so much of the book.  The change in pace is forced near the end, as dual threats arise just to add a different type of conflict to the book.  And we never get any details about the board game that's such a vital interest of Pandora (though we are told Pandora knows about all the glues needed to put them together).  There are moments of levity here (mainly Pandora's notes on her daily activities) and fans of Kleypas' earlier book Devil in Winter will enjoy the return of that book's Evie and Sebastian.  But Devil in Spring is tiresome and wears out its welcome pretty quickly.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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