Back on Valentine’s Day, AudioGals ran a feature entitled Our Valentine to Romance Audiobooks, in which all the reviewers shared thoughts on the romance audiobooks which got us hooked on the genre. As she read and collated all of our jottings, our esteemed editor realised that, because AG is still fairly young (less than two years old) many of these titles have never been reviewed there, and decided to make March a Month of Romance Audio Favourites, in which all of us would contribute a couple of reviews of the audios we’d mentioned in the Valentine’s Day article.
My first romance audio was Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, and it hooked me completely. I wrote a short review last year, when I first listened to it (yes, it was – incredibly – only a year ago!) and now I’ve written a completely new review of the audiobook itself, and reminisced a little, too.
Here’s the new version.
Rating: A for content and A for narration.
I’m a relative newcomer to the world of romance – both in terms of books and audiobooks – and even though I’m a voracious reader, there are still a number of older books on my TBR pile that I despair of ever getting around to reading. That’s one of the reasons my audiobook listening has increased so much over the last couple of years; discovering that a number of those titles I had on my TBR list were available in audio format gave me the opportunity to listen to a large number of books that would probably still be languishing on that very pile, of which, until last year, Devil in Winter was one.
I have no idea what made me choose it out of the list of titles I could have selected. I remember that a number of my Goodreads friends had urged me to read the book and, one day when I was poking around various websites looking for inspiration (as one does), I came across a very reasonably priced MP3 CD copy and bought it on impulse.
At its most basic, the novel is a take on the “rake-meets-wallflower” plot AND it also boasts my favourite of all tropes, the one of “marriage-of-convenience-turns-to-love”, so it was a good bet I was going to enjoy it. What an understatement.
Devil in Winter may be a collection of tropes, but the whole thing is so brilliantly written and wonderfully characterised that it deserves a category of its own. It’s easy to see why it’s such a firm favourite with so many romance readers.
I’m a total sucker for a smart-mouthed, witty, sexy, naughty hero with a bit of a tortured past, and Sebastian St. Vincent ticks all those boxes and then some. On the surface, he’s the epitome of the rake for whom life no longer holds any surprises. He’s been there, done that, done it again – several times over – and has reached the ripe old age of thirty-two staring financial ruin in the face (which, to be fair, isn’t completely his fault) and has nothing in his life of any meaning or permanence. Being the sort of chap he is, he masks all that hollowness under a veneer of ennui yet it’s clear from fairly early on in the story that, despite his divine good looks, his poise and incredible self-assurance, he doesn’t like himself very much.
Fortunately for Sebastian, salvation literally shows up on his doorstep one night in the form of Miss Evangeline Jenner, a young woman regarded as a perennial wallflower. She’s slight, red-haired, freckled, suffers from a stammer (which has led some young men of the ton to make very disparaging comments about her), and she’s also about to inherit a fortune from her dying father – a fortune her grasping relatives would do almost anything to get their grubby mitts on, so Evie has got to act quickly if she’s to evade their plans to marry her to her equally unpleasant cousin.
Knowing that Sebastian is desperate for money, she offers to marry him on condition that he allows her to care for her dying father until the end. She doesn’t want anything else – she doesn’t want Sebastian, she doesn’t want a huge fortune, she doesn’t really want to be married, but as a young unmarried woman who is subject to male authority – in Evie’s case, her avaricious uncles – the only way she can break their hold over her is to transfer their authority to another man. A husband. Then, of course, she has to hope that husband will hold to their agreement and not attempt to interfere in her life.
Sebastian has no alternative. He agrees to Evie’s suggestion that they marry quickly and afterwards go their separate ways and the pair leaves for Gretna Green immediately.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.