Wednesday, May 6, 2015

REVIEW: Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Devil's Bride  by Stephanie Laurens
Original Publication Year: 1998
Genre(s): Historical Romance (Regency)
Series:The Cynsters #1
Narrated by: Simon Prebble

Honoria Anstruther Wetherby, finishing governess and all around independent Regency lady, stumbles across a dying young man in the woods one afternoon.  While she is wondering what to do for him another very overbearing and mysterious fellow comes along and takes control of the situation.  All of them - dying young man, overbearing fellow and Honoria end up getting trapped for the night in a hunting cabin because of a raging storm.  Dying young man dies during the night.  The next day overbearing fellow, who we now learn is Sylvester "Devil" Cynster, announces that he will be marrying Honoria.  She says No Way Jose' and lifts her chin in the air for the first of 2.67 million times.  And that's the book. With a little bit of murder investigation thrown in.

This book wasn't for me but first I'll point out some things I did like about it.  The writing was overall good.  I appreciated the attempt at weaving in an actual plot beyond the romance (the "mystery" murder investigation) though I pretty much figured out who the villain of the piece was immediately.  He/she was laughably obvious so the fact that it took the Cynster's so long to get there just made them look dumb.  And some of the things I didn't like are already creeping in, lol.  The lame mystery was not really what turned me off however; as I said I appreciated the effort to include a potentially interesting storyline.

The main reason the book didn't work for me is Devil.  I've mentioned before that while I am not immune to the Alpha male persona in romance novels, I don't love it particularly especially when taken to extremes.  And boy oh boy is Devil the king of super Alpha uber manly macho men.  If I had been Honoria I would have taken the first opportunity to poke him in the eye, kick him in the balls and then get the hell out of there as fast as my legs could carry me. 

Honoria starts off as this pretty cool lady, independent and supporting herself through working. She is very successful and good at what she does and she has long held dreams and plans to travel to Egypt. She has some trauma in her past that has made her wary of forming intimate connections because she doesn't wish to have children.  Even so, once she has given in to Devil's browbeating and decided she loves the beastly man, she at least is able to tell him how she feels which is more than can be said for Devil.  Because real men don't talk about stupid girly wirly feelings.  Or something.  Basically the whole book seemed to be about Devil quashing the very life out of Honoria, insisting on winning every battle with her and finally convincing her that the only adventure she needs is slaking his manly needs and popping out his babies. 

Ummm... I HATED Devil.  Hated. For me he is the worst kind of Alpha hero. He belittles her desires for travel and adventure. He ignores her protests and does not respect her opinions. He is infuriated when she doesn't just do what he says.  The only thing he does seem to admire about her is her breeding, her body and her pragmatism/cool head that keeps her from getting overly emotional.  He's the ultimate control freak. And worst of all?  He doesn't really have a sense of humor!  Horrors! I initially liked Honoria, but as the book went on and she continually allowed herself to conform to Devil's will (when she wasn't trying to defy him and just getting into trouble and needing to be rescued) I began to not like her very much either.  And that, of course, is at the crux of why I didn't like the book.  
The audio by Simon Prebble was fine though, not surprisingly, I didn't like how Devil was voiced.  The voice given him made him sound more mature in age than he should have been.  This may have added to my lack of enthusiasm for Devil but I think most of that can be chalked up to how the character was written.
FINAL VERDICT:  I didn't like this book very much because I hated the male romantic lead who was an extreme Alpha Male character.  If you find this kind of man attractive or interesting to read about, I think your experience of the book will be entirely more positive because it is well written
and developed.  I will try some other books by Stephanie Laurens but this one was NOT for me. 2 out of 5 stars.

Considering that this book has a 4.11 star out of 5 rating on Goodreads AND a couple of readers I admire loved it, I'd say my strong negative reaction is somewhat unique.  I just finished and LOVED my first Sarah MacLean book and I noticed that she posted a short review of this book saying how intensely she loves Devil.  I would love to hear others' perspectives on this book and what makes it a great read!  Considering how much I didn't like this one, which Stephanie Laurens should I try next?

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