DEVIL'S DAUGHTER – Lisa Kleypas
Hampshire, England – 1877
Phoebe had been married to her beloved Henry for just about five years, but his weak health and delicate constitution finally ended his life after their son Justin was born and before their son Stephen was born. But oh, does Phoebe remember the letters she used to receive from Henry when he was at boarding school, telling her about West Ravenel and how he was a mean, rotten bully and stole his rolls. Henry never forgot the awful years dealing with West before he died. As could only happen in true life, Phoebe's brother Gabriel is marrying Lady Pandora Ravenel, West's cousin. Now Phoebe's family, the Challons, are going to the Ravenel mansion to get to know each other and attend the wedding. Phoebe dreads meeting the evil West who ruined her beloved husband's early life with his taunts.
West is enthralled by Lady Phoebe Clare and her two young sons. Despite being just out of two years of mourning her beauty beckons to him. It is only later that night after talking to her at dinner that he concluded that her husband Henry had attended boarding school with him. He tries to return a book of Henry's to Phoebe that he had stolen all those long years ago (Henry always believed it was him) but she tells him to keep it. It was the first book West had ever had, but those years at boarding school are something he has regretted for years. His elder brother, Devon, has inherited the earldom, and West has moved in with him to help with the estate, something he finds he has quite a knack for doing.
While getting to meet each other before the wedding, West talks to Phoebe about the estate and land and helping the workers and using modern machinery to increase crop production, something Phoebe must learn as she is going to her husband's estate to watch over it for her son Justin as the heir. Her husband's cousin, Edward, runs the estate now, and seems to feel that marrying her is the best thing for her future. Phoebe and West's relationship turns to sex; she is a widow after all, but after the wedding Phoebe must go to the Clare Estate and take up the reins if Edward helps her. But Edward is stalling about showing her the account books, so when he leaves for several weeks she telegraphs West and asks if he can help her make sense of the account books. Soon West knows he must leave Phoebe, despite his feelings for her, his reputation in London in his younger years of drunkenness, carousing and sleeping with married women will get back to her and sully her and her sons too.
The secondary characters are Edward, who holds a secret about the Clare estate, Phoebe's father, once also a noted wastrel and owner of a den of gambling, and all of the Ravenel and Challon family. Each of them value a person for who they are and not what they have done.
DEVIL'S DAUGHTER reintroduces us to Phoebe's father and mother from Ms. Kleypas's series The Wallflowers, DEVIL IN WINTER. (Loved it!) Phoebe and West's story will introduce you to Lisa Kleypas if you've never been lucky enough to read one of her stories, and to revisit old friends, if you have. Phoebe and West's love soon becomes a force to be reckoned with.