Devil’s Daughter is the book 5 of Lisa Kleypas’s ongoing historical romance series, The Ravenels. Though I’ve had quite the ambivalent feeling towards a few of the installments, I’ve largely enjoyed her return to the world of historical romance since this series debuted in 2015. It was given, that Weston Ravenel, one of the prominent secondary characters of the series, would have his own book. But was I really anticipating the release of his book? Did it meet my expectations?? Let’s see if I can elaborate.
As usual, I’ll begin with a bit of background to connect the dots. So the series is set in the Victorian England. Two brothers, Devon and Weston, two of the very few remaining Ravenels, suddenly come to an inheritance that they never thought of gaining. Devon becomes an Earl when the direct heir to the Treanor earldom suddenly died in a riding accident without leaving any heir. The circumstance of Theo’s death was an example of how wild and unpredictable a bunch the Ravenels are. Having a self-destructive bend is how they’ve always been, probably since the beginning of their line. They were known for wild and fast living and many of their ancestors died young too maintaining that lifestyle. Devon and Weston were most probably heading to that direction, though they had none of the burdens of money and properties… until they were burdened. In fact, Devon and Weston were poor enough to not have any prospects. Both were known rakes, sometimes bullies and had a very debauched lifestyle of a true Ravenel. They’d probably planned on dying young (at least Weston had thought so…). But owning the legacy that was never meant to be theirs changed everything for them. And boy with that legacy came burdens! Not only Devon was now responsible for a dilapidated, debt-ridden mansion that he ardently wanted to raze down and wash his hands off of, but also he had to take care of Theo’s young widow, Kathleen and his 3 sisters; Helen, and the twins, Pandora and Cassandra.
The above is basically how the series begins in book 1, Cold-Hearted Rake. It was Devon and Kathleen’s book. Good starter for a series but not my favorite, mainly because I wasn’t fond of the overly meddling Kathleen who got on my nerves more than a few times. But Devon improved a lot. Even though bearing responsibilities wasn’t one of his strong suits, he began mending his ways. Weston also found a fondness for estate management and followed suit. I’d say both brothers finally found some purpose in life to do something good. The sisters whom they’d never known before became their own in no time as they both adored Helen, Pandora and Cassandra. And of course, Devon went and fell in love with Kathleen (I still question, why???)
Rhys Winterborne, a Welsh-born businessman, was also introduced in book 1 as one of Devon’s business associates. He and Helen hit it right off, even though Rhys was gravely injured from an accident. They had some of the most marvelous scenes in book 1 that paled Devon and Kathleen’s romance. No wonder I loved their book (#2), Marrying Winterborne! The sizzling chemistry was there until the end. :)
Book 3 was Pandora’s book, which was rather unexpected. I thought Cassandra would have her story before her twin. But Devil in Spring was also one of the most anticipated installments of the series, the H Gabriel being the son of one of our most favorite Lisa Kleypas characters to date, Sebastian St. Vincent, who graces the chapters of Devil in Winter from her Wallflowers series. If you haven’t read that series, I wouldn’t suggest you read it first cause, at this point, I find that both series are quite well entwined from characters of past and present. Sadly, book 3 was boring to a point I skimmed a big chunk of it. Gabriel regrettably doesn’t hold a candle to his most illustrious papa. LOL He was never introduced in any of the earlier books and I had a difficult time connecting with him, and him to Pandora. Not how I thought things would go frankly speaking.
Now, book 4… that was one big surprise. I mean I was rather swept away by this book and it’s H, Ethan Ransom! His and Dr. Garrett Gibson’s story wasn’t the one I was looking forward to. For one, though I liked Garrett, a very brilliant female doctor, one of a kind at that day and age, I hated her manly name. The reasons behind this uniqueness is explained in the author note, still I wasn’t sure. And Ethan, an Irish-born detective who started out poor and had the most miserable childhood imaginable. Ethan later became a detective and was really good at his job. There are sequences of how he and Garrett were introduced, of how they become acquainted then began falling for one-another. Definitely some really sexy (as well as funny) scenes between him and her that I absolutely LOVED. I was in heaven because I felt that I finally found a hero in this series who gave me same tingly sensation that the older Kleypas heroes used to give me. Those fluttery feelings and happy sighs. Ethan was the stuff of dreams with how he was around Garrett, who was amazing in her own rights. Neither of them was a lord or a lady or even rich but Hello Stranger is my most favorite installment to date. :D
Weston has been a regular character since his brother’s book. Though we knew he’d get his own book at some point, I wasn’t overly excited about the idea cause in the first two installments I found him to be rather obnoxious, even if he intrigued me. Wasn’t sure what to think of him. But then, he began changing...for good. As if he’d found a new lease on life. As I mentioned above, he found the love of estate management, then began helping Devon bring the Treanor mansion and its lands back from its debt-darkened pit. The brothers proved that they were, indeed, men to whom people could look up to. Weston certainly was since he spend time cultivating new relationships with the tenant farmers and invested in new techniques to turn things around. Over the course of, I don’t know, 3 or so years, they’ve paid their debts and multiplied their assets, vastly improving their finances.
Yet, even though Devon was the Earl and settled with Kathleen and their children, Weston felt he had nothing. More precisely, nothing to call his own. The estate and everything else belonged to Devon. So far, he’d worked his butt off to help Devon. He loved working shoulder to shoulder with their tenants and the severity of the work kept him occupied. The sisters were almost all married too, except from Cassandra, who was a total lady and could be married any moment with her classic beauty and the dowry Devon would provide for her. Weston really didn’t have a lot left to worry over and I think he’d began feeling the loneliness creeping in slowly. He didn’t want to go back to his old, ruthless ways after spending the years amending all the wrongs. But he knew there were things in his past that may come back to haunt him.
The story actually begins simultaneously in book 3, where Pandora and Gabriel’s wedding was taking place. You get mention of incidents from book 4 too in one of the last couple of chapters.
Our h, Phoebe, newly widowed with 2 young children, was present in Gabriel’s wedding. TBH, she so paled in comparison to the other characters that I don’t even remember her all that much, IF she was introduced at all. But from this book, I could see how she and Weston were introduced when they all gathered in Sebastian’s luxurious seaside villa for the wedding. Oh BTW, Phoebe is Sebastian’s oldest child (or the one after Gabriel?). She married young, to her childhood sweetheart Henry who had always been a chronically ill individual. I don’t think his illness was ever discussed in detail so what he suffered from would always be a mystery I suppose. Finally, 4 yrs of marriage and 2 children later, Henry passed away just over a year ago. Phoebe’s eldest son is 3 yrs old, the youngest barely a year old. She was pregnant with her second when Henry passed. At the beginning of Devil’s Daughter, she was just coming out of her mourning, even though she wasn’t ready to move on. Not one bit.
It seemed like, though Weston didn’t immediately recognized her, Phoebe did. And therein lay the twist of the story if you can call it that. When we first meet Phoebe she was quite irritated that she will have to meet someone called Weston Ravenel in Gabriel’s wedding, who’d become a family member too. Though their first meeting sort of paves the tone of what’s to come where a relationship was concerned (AKA the obvious attraction between Phoebe and Weston), it took Phoebe quite a while to actually see Weston for the man he’d changed into. So she couldn’t believe that the overweight bully who used to torment Henry while they were in the same school is this hunk of a man with a pair of alluringly bright blue eyes—a very Ravenel physical trait—which looked even brighter on his tanned face. He did look like someone who loved working outside and by his buff physique, quite a lot. He was tall and astonishingly good-looking. Definitely nothing like the thin and pale Henry (you’d definitely find her comparing Henry to Weston regularly in the story). It was said that Henry had a pleasing face which you could call attractive, but I doubt he had any vigor in him. From all things I read that came from Phoebe, he didn’t.
For Weston, he fell for Phoebe pretty much from the beginning. Most especially when he realized it was Phoebe of THE Henry he remembered from school. There is a backstory of how he’d known of Phoebe from the books she send to Henry. Weston instinctively knew it was Henry’s sweetheart. Because the brothers had already had a troubled childhood and were troubled kids, Weston had a reputation for being a bully. Something Weston acknowledged with a lot of guilt in his heart. He grew up thinking nobody in the world wanted him. Knowing that a small and always ill kid like Henry had someone like Phoebe made him mad...... And he did things he wasn’t proud of. But Phoebe had somehow been in his mind. So when he figured out who Phoebe was and why she was always rather standoffish around him, not only Weston felt guilty to the bone, he also found himself falling for her even more. It was also because Phoebe was beautiful and he knew she was attracted to him even if she didn’t want to acknowledge it for a while. He wanted to make amends but wasn’t sure how to proceed. Weston knew there’d be no future for them but boy did he want it so very badly! Phoebe was a young widow of a peer and her father was a Duke who was also filthy rich. She won’t remain unmarried for long when she decides to come back to the social scene. And Weston practically had nothing to offer her.
But I found myself finding issues. First of all, have to clarify that there was nothing wrong with Weston. I kinda thought he’d be someone who, when he fell hard, he’d simply let go and fall in love head-over-heels. Which he did. He was a man who could acknowledge his faults, poke fun at his own expense and work hard to change himself for the better, so much so that many wouldn’t recognize him today. He even remained celibate for a long time. I don’t know exactly why but he was until Phoebe. I loved his devotion for Phoebe even when knowing they may not have a future together. He was adorable. :)
On the other hand, Phoebe I found to be rather immature even if she married and had kids. Many of her assumptions of Weston were based on whatever Henry told her and it took him quite a while to make her see otherwise. She never even stopped to think that those incidents were A LONG time ago and that people change. Also, call me whatever but I never quite understood the appeal of Henry. He seemed like someone who lived in a bubble of sorts (thanks to his illness and definitely his parents) and stayed as far away from the nitty-gritty of the real life as humanely was possible for him. Phoebe, even at one point, mentions that Henry had standards that she found difficult to maintain. One, I felt, was he put her on a pedestal of perfectness and Phoebe had to gauge her actions to keep him happy so as not to ruin his ‘illusions’ about her cause she acknowledged that she was not a ‘perfect’ person in any way. All in all, I found their relationship weird to say the least. I thought Henry was an aggravating individual from all I read about him. Or someone you can forget about easily, never think of ever again. Guess I’d never be able to judge correctly since I never had the chance of meeting him.
Phoebe was VERY devoted to Henry. But was it love? I mean LOVE love? Whatever it was, definitely not the red-hot, full-bodied love that you’d expect. The attraction and the yearning. Nothing like that. Since they’d known each-other from childhood, Henry and Phoebe formed a strong bond. Yet, what I felt that she was very sympathetic towards his plight and convinced herself that she’s in love with him. That she’d never love any other. That she needs to be the one to take care of him. She let herself be manipulated not only by Henry but also his family, to a point where she made an unspoken deal with Henry’s cousin, who was managing Henry’s estate now, that she’d marry him sometimes soon. A deal no one knew of but Henry’s family. It was expected that she’d do it because Henry wanted it before he passed away. Nope, she felt no love or attraction towards the man in question but she’d have gone and married him just because ‘Henry wanted it’. Even if she wasn’t interested in getting married again. Or at the least try to stay single as long as possible for her, spending time with her two beautiful sons. Things changed drastically when she met Weston when she couldn’t deny the physical pull between them. A few kisses and she knew she’d never known anything like that in her life, and probably won’t ever again if she marries someone else.
I found Phoebe to be wishy-washy, someone who couldn’t really make up her mind easily. She didn’t feel like the perfect fit for Weston even though he was a complete goner for her. I’m not saying she was appalling or annoying … just not right for him. Even when they became lovers for the sake of having a few nights of fond memories, I wasn’t sure what to think of their union. :/ Also, many times in the story, I thought there’d be some dark secrets of Weston coming back to haunt him. Something that’ll test their love for one another making the story even more intense. But nothing like that ever happened. So the story went rather too straightforwardly to a misunderstanding that could’ve been avoided if Weston wasn’t being an idiot. -_-
In the end, I also expected a big, sweeping gesture when they finally reunited after a bit of meddling from Phoebe’s dear papa (LOL). Unfortunately there was nothing of that sort and the story simply ended. Just like that. Very abruptly, which really surprised me. I’d at least expected an epilogue to know that they were doing well and maybe a little taste of the next book and found nothing. And that was not a good feeling TBH. Hence 4 stars, even though I wish I could’ve rated it better.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best scenes of the book were between Sebastian and Evie, like seriously those two! Yikes but also so good!!! LOLOLOLOL I still dig these two the way I did when I read their book years ago. :) I keep remembering snippets and smiling to myself, cause never in my life I thought that at some point in distant future, I’d be reading their story 25 or so years ahead. Also would like to mention, if you’re a fan of the Wallflowers series, you’d be in for bigger surprises here. I felt so nostalgic myself that almost went and re-read the series. :D
Now I’m eagerly awaiting Cassandra’s book. I’m quite surprised that neither she, nor the man we think she’d be paired with, were seen in the story at all. But I’m willing to wait and see what Ms. Kleypas has up her sleeve. February 2020 can’t come any sooner. Sigh.