2.5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
My reaction to this book can probably be summed up in one word: meh. While all the necessary elements are there (the dashing rake of a bachelor who sees no use for marriage and desperately wants to escape the matchmaking mamas, the innocent and somewhat flighty heroine, the subplot that has elements of mystery)… there just wasn’t anything that I ultimately connected with or to in this book. Laurens is a talented writer, and I didn’t regret my time reading this book, but parts of it were definitely skim-worthy, and overall, it just felt kind of mediocre… and meh.
Demon Cynster is the fourth of the Bar Cynster set to fall to the matrimony trap. The characteristic that’s supposed to differentiate him from the rest of the Bar Cynster is his interest in horseflesh (Devil’s the managing duke, Gabriel is good with numbers, Richard is the scandalous born-on-the-wrong-side outcast who marries a witch, so that leaves Demon with horses, I guess…). As he sees his brethren falling into the parson’s mousetrap, he decides to flee London, as if that will change his fate. He goes to his place in Newmarket, where he meets Felicity (Flick), the daughter of one of his former mentors.
Flick seems like she could be interesting — she dresses as a boy to ride and as a disguise sometimes, she’s interested in trying to get to the bottom of a race-fixing scheme, and seems like she could be lots of fun… but ultimately, I found her too flighty/tempestuous to really relate to.
And their love story is just so-so. Laurens likes all of her heroes and heroines to be extremes; her love scenes are always passionate: the men always always lust after the women, often, they resign themselves to marrying the women in question (because they’re honorable ladies, virgins and, in this case, because Flick’s the daughter of his former mentor)… usually it’s not even marriage they want to resist so much as the “falling in love” part, and Laurens does this part well.
But the side plots were barely there (and again, just meh), I was totally uninterested in all the horsing/racing details, and the characters just don’t feel as deeply drawn as they have been in other books in this series, all of which led to me being just less connected with this particular story.
Comparisons to Other Authors:
Laurens is all about combining mystery with lots of sensual sex — the sex and plot don’t overwhelm the characterizations (as they sometimes do in Virginia Henley books), and it’s almost always emotional and sexual at the same time (more like LIsa Kleypas), but the ratio of sex to character development is pretty high… and the side plots that usually involve murder, theft, etc remind me of Amanda Quick books.