Georgette Heyer,
Devil's Cub
(Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009)

Here I was expecting a cozy, amusing read, and Devil's Cub pounced on me. The locales, characters and overall tone of this work are not in Georgette Heyer's usual style, starting with the title character. Heyer's never shy of the Bad Boy Mystique, but Devil's Cub takes the cake. And more literally, the girls, the races and even the winnings in gambling dens, are all taken at the impulse of the Marquis of Vidal. This restless antihero's passions set a quick pace for the novel and a fast beat for the heroine's heart.

Mary Challoner meets the Marquis when he begins paying attention to her more beautiful sister. A combination of protectiveness, foolishness and, as it turns out, tenderness compels Mary to draw the Marquis' dishonourable intentions to herself. However, her character is the least well developed of any I've read in a Heyer book. The interaction between the leads clearly shows why she suits the role of Marchioness of Vidal. Why the Devil's Cub found a place in her heart is a mystery that happens before the action, before their interaction and without any demonstrable connections with Mary's identity. There are some facts about her life that suggest reasons for Mary's partiality (at least to me), but nothing is really explored along these lines.

The really strong characters in this novel are the Marquis' parents, the Duke and Duchess of Vidal. As the stars of These Old Shades, Justin, the Duke of Avon, and his Leonie put in bold, genuine and refreshing appearances. Add in a vivacious cousin with engagement problems and an uncle who's insulted at being told he's growing moral, and it keeps the novel pleasant. Even so, it needs the fast pace and adventure cliches to keep this novel interesting. Devil's Cub has his appeal, but the cub's mate isn't really what I'd wish for him, and is certainly not the heroine I expect of Georgette Heyer.

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book review by
Whitney Mallenby

12 May 2012

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