‘Lord Devlin Wayward, gambler and dedicated rake, returns home for the first time in years, and lands himself and his identical twin, Daniel, the good reverend, in deep trouble. Devlin ends up with a broken leg and unable to travel to London, yet he must return. He’s got an important deal that will make or break his fortune. He persuades the reluctant reverend to take his place in London while he temporarily minds his brother’s flock.
Miss Mary Tomblin is taken with the devastatingly handsome reverend. He represents everything she desires in a husband, after narrowly evading a ruthless rake last Season. Mary knows she’ll make him an excellent wife, but the vicar rebuffs every advance – until he suddenly accepts her help with pastoral duties while his broken leg heals. Mary seizes the chance to show the good reverend what an excellent helpmeet she will be.
The devil takes on the role of village vicar and discovers it’s nowhere near as easy as he imagined—especially when he falls in love with an angel who mistakes him for a saint.’
This is only the second romance novel I’ve read, and I was intrigued by how exactly Devlin and Daniel were going to take over each other’s lives, and with what degree of success they might achieve this. The reader only sees Devlin’s side of the matter, as suggested by the blurb, though I was pleased to see it suggested that there is/is going to be a novel that looks at what happened to Daniel while in London. I think there are some perhaps some edits to be completed, as there are some odd jumps/things out of sequence in the early stages of the story.
What I enjoyed most in the book was the time that Devlin and Mary spent together visiting the parishioners, learning more about the community, each other and challenging each other’s views – though some of this is done in a manner designed deliberately to provoke and is not a genuine effort to learn more about the other, which Devlin inevitably regrets each time. Though it seems that it is ultimately Devlin’s nature that is changed by what he experiences, to my mind it is Mary who undergoes the more drastic alteration and gets to exercise and embrace her intelligence and compassion when not having previously been given much opportunity to do so. Her actions, much like Devlin’s, begin with the intent to benefit herself, but she goes on to take a genuine interest in people beyond her usual social sphere and seems to genuinely want to assist and befriend them for more than her desire to become the vicar’s wife. Her scenes with the people they visit are among the most heart-warming and I would have happily read more of them. It’s predominantly after these scenes that Devlin and Mary demonstrate that they are actually a good match for each other outside their deceptions, and I would have liked to read more of this too.
As I mentioned previously, this is only the second romance novel I’ve read, and perhaps my assumptions about them have largely been wrong, but I think I was expecting more actual romance in the plot? Devlin is certainly attracted to Mary and he seems to form a genuine attachment to her, though I was never quite sure if what Mary feels for him is love. I did like her character development, though there are moments when she appears unable to see consequences to her actions (having previously had a bad experience last season, which doesn’t quite make her behaviour towards Devlin make complete sense). They don’t get to spend very much time together in different environments, though this would be expected of the time period, and though there is one scene of physical intimacy, it is rather late in the story and it feels as if this is where the romance starts and essentially ends. As I’m not too familiar with the genre, I’m not completely sure what the particular hallmarks of it are, but I’m sure that there needs to be a measure of suspending disbelief, which I was happy to for the duration of the story. It is a good, escapist, tale, and the characters are easy to want positive things for.
To my mind, the lead up to the ending takes away from the enjoyment of the rest of the novel. There is an awful lot of – justified – ill-feeling in the last quarter of its pages and while I didn’t want everything sorted out nice and neatly, with no acknowledgement of what had happened before, the story concludes in a rather abrupt way, with the epilogue only making the briefest of suggestions as to how things might have unfolded since. I’m hoping that we might see more of these story threads in the aforementioned future instalment. This said, I did like the book (I read it cover to cover without putting it down) and would love to see more of these characters!
Thank you, Entangled Publishing, for the digital ARC!
I received an e-ARC from Netgalley and the publisher.