The Ravenels, Book 3
Heat Factor: They’re a little wild
Character Chemistry: The way they work together on their relationship is wonderful
Plot: Pair of young people inadvertently find themselves in a compromising position and…
Overall: There are a few moments in this book that are heart-stoppingly wonderful
I love this book.
On the surface, it seems like it might be a Marriage of Convenience story, because Gabriel inadvertently compromises Pandora and they have to get married or SCANDAL. But Marriage of Convenience stories don’t really make the best of a marriage, with a real marriage being the goal (some stupid conversation about no sex is pretty much required), so it’s not that.
Pandora Ravenel has no interest in marriage because she has plans. She’s clearly one of those obnoxious heroines who’s an anachronistic feminist. Except that she is actually living the life she wants as a budding entrepreneur, making board games with the support of her family. She’s not engaging in the self-sabotage that so often occurs with these heroines because she honestly does not care at all about larger society simply because she’s hyperactive, and it bores her.
Gabriel Challon is the eldest son of a Duke and he’s basically perfect. Handsome, titled, talented, wealthy, and avoiding marriage like the plague. He’s a shoo-in for being a tough case and a snob. But he’s not because he’s the son of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent and Evie Jenner (of Devil in Winter fame). He grew up in a big, loving, lively household that’s just a little bit unconventional.
We are dealing with two genuinely nice protagonists here. Things happen quickly, so some might have a hard time buying into such immediate love, but I was not one of those people. Synopsis: Gabriel inadvertently compromises Pandora in a summer house and because he’s perfect and honorable he immediately goes to her guardian’s house and offers marriage. They start off on the right foot because he’s playful and she’s in a funny scrape, but things go sideways with the Compromise. Pandora categorically refuses to marry Gabriel because REASONS and Gabriel refuses to buy any of those reasons and thinks he’s caught and is WALLOWING. But when his father (stop a second–Sebastian is a fantasy as a mature man / father / Duke in this series, and I adore him–resume thoughts) arrives in London to see what’s going on and he’s given an out, Gabriel doesn’t want to take it.
The Ravenels visit the Challons at their seaside estate, Gabriel and Pandora are given numerous opportunities to get to know each other a little better outside of London, and it is magical. That might be over-the-top on my part, but I love stories in which the protagonists get to know each other, speak honestly, disagree, understand, accept. Magical.
When Gabriel was given an out by his father, he pretty much decided that he really did want to marry Pandora (because she’s unique and mesmerising), so he’s more-than-less all in by the time she gets to his parents’ house. Pandora is a tough sell. She’s not dreaming of some future goal when-she-finally-has-her-independence, she’s living her dream now, and marriage would ruin that. If she married Gabriel, she would no longer exist as a legal entity, and she’d lose her business. Gabriel is taken aback (it is SO difficult when your notions of what’s right are challenged), but he makes an effort to find a legal loophole. Here Kleypas demonstrates the compromise and troubleshooting that makes a partnership of a marriage, which almost never happens except superficially in historical romance novels. Because the fact is, the loophole still doesn’t really give Pandora the rights she wants, and if she wants Gabriel, she’s going to have to take a risk, trust him, and compromise. And she finds she does want him. And I swoon.
You’d think that would be the resolution of the story, but it is so not. We are not even through two thirds of the book. Enter classic Kleypas external threat plot device. I won’t go into too much detail, so the short of it is that Pandora gets into a scrape and nearly dies. Dr. Garret Gibson, is called on to patch her up, and while the reader may be accustomed to Dr. Gibson from Marrying Winterborne, Gabriel is taken aback that a young woman is responsible for saving the thing he finds most precious in the world. It’s great. Very well written. Emotionally gripping. Every time I’ve read this book, I go back and read these chapters again when I’m done. (Then Evie and Sebastian come in and say something to Gabriel while he’s so anxious, and I go read Devil in Winter again. I have a problem.) I swoon all over again.
Short story–I love this book. I’m keeping it forever.
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