The Devil Takes A Bride (The Cabot Sisters #2)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Not long ago, Grace Cabot and her sisters were in the sought-after part of society. With beauty and wealth it was expected they would make good matches but then came the death of their stepfather, the Earl of Beckington. Although the new Earl, their stepbrother still maintains a responsibility for them and their mother, he’s getting married soon himself and soon their circumstances could become even more diminished. Far less desirable, their chances of making a good match have nosedived unless they are willing to do something drastic. And Grace is willing to do something drastic.
Her plot was to seduce a rakish Viscount into marriage, luring him into a secluded spot and then having them discovered together. Only things go very wrong when it’s the wrong man that follows her into a darkened room – the Viscount’s older brother, the Earl of Merryton. Grace is caught in a compromising situation with a man she doesn’t even know and one who has a reputation of being extremely cold and austere.
Geoffrey, Earl of Merryton had no desire for a wife although the duty meant that he would have to marry. He had a suitable candidate chosen but all his plans were thrown into chaos when he followed Grace Cabot. Geoffrey lives his life by routine and order and his new bride is the very definition of disorder. Despite the disruption to his life, Geoffrey can’t help but want his wife…..but he has secrets that he’s been keeping from her, things that he’s kept from everyone. And when she finds out, she’s not going to want anything to do with him.
I’m requesting so many historical romances these days, I can’t get enough of them. This is the second in a series, which I didn’t realise until after I started reading it but it doesn’t matter. It’s not entirely necessary to read them in order in fact the first two books seem to take place around the same time but the first one does finish earlier than this one. I learned enough of that story through this one to really want to read it so it’s definitely going on my TBR.
This is a fairly straight-forward ‘forced into marriage’ story when Grace attempts to seduce a Viscount who paid her attention during her season but then vanished. Instead it’s his older brother that she’s caught with, the formidable Earl of Merryton. But once we get to know the Earl a bit, it deviates from the standard. The Earl has been raised very strictly by his father, the previous Earl, with duty and order being drummed into him from a very early age. As a result the current Earl has a few character quirks – in this day he’d probably be called obsessive compulsive. He lives his life by the rule of 8, counting to 8 when things make him uncomfortable, pacing out steps that can be divided by 8 (rooms must be 16 steps or 24 steps, etc). He also has particularly vivid fantasies, things that make him believe that he’s sick and twisted.
I tend to like the really stand-offish heroes so Geoffrey was my sort of character and I found his particular quirks rather interesting, they weren’t something I’ve really read before, especially the second one. I thought the explanation for his rules and order and devotion to duty entirely credible. I think it’s often glossed over how utterly unromantic it can be to be an Earl or a Duke or whatever because romance novels tend to depict them as young, rich and careless rakes. But a lot of preparation and expectation must have been placed on the heir apparent and I think Geoffrey demonstrates the extreme end of this. He’s so obsessed by duty and reputation and upholding the family’s good name and the seat or whatever it’s called, that he’s basically isolated himself into a hole. Partially it’s also because of his obsessions and fantasies, as well. Which are probably both a bi-product of the terrible parenting he experienced as a child. Grace is surprised when several accounts she received of her husband as a child differ completely from the man he is today.
Geoffrey and Grace do have chemistry and I like the way that their first few encounters are awkward. Grace is a virgin of course and Geoffrey has certain preferences and although he goes in to his first night with Grace aiming to do one thing, he loses control and it doesn’t go quite as planned. Grace isn’t quite sure what to expect but what she got wasn’t it….and it takes a while before she begins to understand Geoffrey and the internal struggles he’s got going on as well as the fact that he does actually desire her. She thinks he doesn’t want to look at her face, but really he just likes that position. It’s a road they have to take towards trust and understanding – Geoffrey has to choose to confess his preferences and Grace has to choose what to do with the information that she’s been given. Although Grace is an opportunist and a little manipulative (she did intend to trap a man into marriage after all) she’s not a hysteric thankfully and she does give Geoffrey’s quirks and confessions some serious consideration. There are some things she wants to help him with, purely for his own personal comfort and also so that they may have a more involved life together and there are other things where she accepts him utterly as he is.
I enjoyed this and I’m definitely interested in reading the books about the other Cabot sisters.
Book #26 of 2015