Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!
Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.
But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts -- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions...or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.
Two summers ago I read the Secrets of a Summer Night and It Happened One Autumn, books one and two of the Wallflower series. Devil in Winter is book number three and I actually bought this book new back then but after reading the first two books in succession I lost interest in reading DiW. The whole series centers around four women "are sick of being snubbed and overlooked by London's bachelors and who have banded together to find themselves husbands."
I wasn't really that impressed with the heroines of SoaSN and IHOA. One was pretty much a female fortune hunter and a snob and the other was too brash and was a brat most of the time. I felt sorry for the two heroes they were saddled with at first. Eventually, they did become more likable, but I still wasn't expecting much of DiW. I bought this book secondhand online so I wouldn't feel too bad if I happen to not finish it. Boy, was I wrong.
The book began where IHOA ended with Evie going to see Sebastian at his town house to propose marriage. Sebastian (who was the villain in IHOA) just came home from his failed attempt to kidnap Lillian and was surprised to find shy Evie offering a marriage of convenience, in which they would both benefit: she will finally be free from her abusive relative and can take care of her dying father in his last days and Sebastian needed to marry an heiress to refill the family coffers. Both quickly leave for Gretna Green and were married ASAP. However, Evie (who knew all about Sebastian's rakish way) wanted to protect her heart and Sebastian in turn didn't believe in love--both were determined to keep each other at a distance.
But of course they couldn't.
Sebastian was crude, blunt, and very verbally abrasive rake--very much an anti-hero. He started out being very much jerk you'd love to hate but as the story unfolds the reader sees that underneath all that mean and arrogant exterior lies a passionate and caring man. Evie herself was a great heroine--she started out a shy, stuttering wallflower but comes out her shell a confident woman. You get the sense that the character growth that occurred between the hero and heroine couldn't have happened without each other love, patience, and understanding. The two were perfectly matched and there was great chemistry between them. There were many memorable scenes in the book between the couple that I know I'm going to keep revisiting over and over again whenever the mood strikes.
The secondary characters were great as well, most notably the first two wallflowers again (who were not as annoying as they were in their own book), Lord Westcliff (the hero from IHOA), and half-Gypsy Cam Rohan (the hero of the first book in Kleypas' new Hathaway series). The book was very well written and this my favorite Kleypas book to date. I actually felt a little sad when I finished the book because I wanted to read more about Evie and Sebastian--the book was that good! I can't wait to read Scandal in Spring, the last book in the series and Daisy's story. I hope it's just as good as this one.
I'm rating this book 5 stars.