Desert Isle Keeper

Devil's Bride (#32 on our Top 100 Romances List)

Stephanie Laurens

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on April  18, 1998

I haven’t read a really good European historical romance in a while and had heard some good things about Stephanie Laurens’ new book Devil’s Bride. I had read her earlier book, Captain Jack’s Woman and thought it was pretty good. I had heard such good things about Devil’s Bride that I was afraid it would not live up to expectations. I found it at the grocery store, got home, started to read and was hooked from the start.

Devil’s Bride is set in the Regency period and features one of the strongest, most self-assured heroines I have ever encountered. Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby is no sheltered little miss. She is twenty-four, strong-willed, self-sufficient and a lady of independent means. She works as a finishing governess; training young girls to make a good come-out while she waits till she is a little older and can fulfill her dream of going to Africa and exploring.

While Honoria is out driving in the woods, she comes across the body of a badly wounded young man. Her horse is spooked by thunder and runs away leaving her with the young man who is unconscious. Shortly after, a stranger on a horse rides up and identifies the wounded man as his cousin, Tolly. Honoria and the stranger take the wounded man to a near-by cottage since it has started to rain. The strange man discovers Honoria’s identity and tells her they will have to marry. Tolly dies in the night and the next morning, Honoria finds out that the stranger is Sylvester Cynster, Duke of St. Ives who is known as Devil. To Devil’s surprise, Honoria does not want to marry him. She has her own money, she doesn’t want to marry anyone, she cares nothing for Society, and she wants to go to Africa. Devil is determined that she will marry him. Honoria has to move in with Devil’s mother until her brother can come and get her. But, to her chagrin, when her brother does come, he thinks she should marry Devil! Honoria is forced into close proximity to Devil and his five Cynster cousins, as they work to solve the mystery behind Tolly’s death.

Honoria helps the Cynster clan while they investigate Tolly’s murder and she and Devil grow closer and closer until she decides that marriage would not be such a bad thing. By this time, however, Devil turns the tables on her and makes her pursue him, which is just one of the many ways in which the author uses humor to round out the story (another, more obvious clever bit of writing is in the nicknames of the Cynster clan).

The attraction between Honoria and Devil is strong and the love scenes in this book are stunning. I have heard complaints that writers are beginning to cut their love scenes short. Ms. Laurens is not guilty of that. The love scenes here are many pages long and extremely sensuous. Honoria and Devil are not just involved for sex alone. They are attracted to each other, they love each other, and they like each other before they become lovers.

There was just so much I liked about this book. Devil Cynster was a rake – but he was intelligent, honorable, and totally devoted to his family. Honoria was every bit his match – strong, brave, and independent. Their marriage takes place mid-way through the book and Ms. Laurens does an excellent job showing how two such strong-willed characters learn to live together. The mystery behind Tolly’s murder was intriguing, but did not overshadow the relationship between Devil and Honoria. The Cynster cousins were a likable bunch of roguish guys, and Ms. Laurens has plans to write about each of them. I can hardly wait!

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Ellen Micheletti

Grade :     A

Sensuality :      Hot

Book Type :     

Review Tags :      |


  1. Lola December 16, 2017 at 12:36 am - Reply

    This was my gateway book to historical romances. For some inane reason I can’t even remember, I had always avoided them. There was a bookseller that just had me in her sights and was determined to get me to try a historical (I was a frequent customer in my pre-Kindle days). I trusted her (she had some seriously right-on recommendations) and eventually gave in agreeing to read her best recommendation. This was it. And, man, I fell into a Cynster hole. Then, I fell into a Bedwyn hole. And, then, a Wallflowers hole. And so on, and so on, and so on.

    This stuff is seriously addictive.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan December 16, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

      It was one of mine too. I don’t read her anymore and I’m wondering why. There was a time I was so pro-Cynster!

  2. Caz Owens
    Caz Owens December 16, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I admit I haven’t read much – if any – early Laurens, but her more recent books have ranged from dreadful to average, IMO. That might be why you don’t read her any more, Dabney! 😉

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan December 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      But I’m a big rereader and I don’t reread the ones I loved ten years ago. Not sure why.

  3. mel burns January 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    The sex scenes in Laurens’ books go on and on and on which is why I never re-read them and the “hero knows best” attitude is laughable and irksome at the same time. After awhile this formula got old IMO. I read Scandal’s book first and couldn’t believe what I was reading as it was one of my first forays into historical romance by “modern writers”. I didn’t go back to HR for years until I was stuck in the sticks without books and Julia Quinn was on the shelf in our cabin. Later I read Devil’s Bride and the other Cynster novels just for some giggles. DB is the best of the bunch, cuz Devil is such a prick and Honora is so appalled by her attraction for him. It’s great fun!

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