Monday, 22 September 2014

'Devil's Cub' by Georgette Heyer (1932)

Synopsis: Devil's Cub is the sequel to These Old Shades. Dominic Alastair, the Marquis of Vidal, is the grown-up son of the Duke and Duchess of Avon. Unfortunately Vidal has inherited both of his parent's biggest flaws. He has his father's old rakish ways and his mother's quick temper. When Vidal is then involved in a drunken duel at a gambling house, his furious father demands that he go over to France and stay there until the scandal has died down. However, Vidal intends to enjoy his time in France and soon makes plans to take a beautiful but air-headed young woman called Sophia Challoner along with him as his mistress. When Mary Challoner - Sophia's less pretty but far more intelligent and sensible older sister - finds out that Vidal is planning to elope with Sophia she's horrified. To save her sister's reputation, Mary takes the drastic step of disguising herself as her sister and taking her place. She assumes that Vidal will send her back as soon as he finds out his mistake and that no-one outside the family will find out what has happened. But when Vidal finds out that he's been tricked he becomes livid. He decides to teach Mary a lesson by kidnapping her. Believing Mary's morals to be as loose as her sister's he then attempts to force himself on her but Mary, wanting to protect her virtue, shoots Vidal in the arm. Realising that Mary is a virtuous woman, and that he will have ruined her reputation by carrying her off to France, Vidal now feels guilty. He tries to put the situation right by proposing to Mary but she refuses. Although Mary has developed romantic feelings for Vidal she believes that he's only proposing to her out of guilt. Finding the idea of being married to a man who doesn't love her intolerable she runs away from Vidal. He then begins to search the country for her.

Since Devil's Cub is the sequel to These Old Shades (which I loved) I was really looking forward to this book. In the end I was a little disappointed. Overall I still found the book fun and enjoyable but nowhere near as much as These Old Shades. That was all down to its hero. I've loved some of Heyer's other rakish heroes like Lord Damerel, the Marquis of Alverstoke and the Duke of Avon but Vidal didn't do it for me at all. Vidal might have inherited his father's old rakish ways but he has none of Avon's wit and charm and I found him very unlikeable. In fact he's horrible! He doesn't care for anyone apart from his mother. He's a callous murderer. He kidnaps a woman, bruises her neck, and then threatens her with rape. And there is every indication that he actually means to go through with the rape until Mary shoots him. Later on Vidal tries to justify his actions by saying that he thought Mary was a silly coquettish female who was only playing hard to get but that still doesn't make it right. It's all very Blurred Lines. ಠ_ಠ

It's a shame because if only I could have liked Vidal then I would have probably loved this book. It has the rich period detail and the witty and funny dialogue that I've come to expect from Heyer. For me the best moments in the book were Rupert's complete bemusement as to why Vidal had run off to Dijon and the scene where Avon and Mary meet :) It isn't necessary to have read These Old Shades before Devil's Cub - as the storylines aren't really continuous - but as a fan of that book it was great to read about Avon, Leonie, Fanny and Rupert again. Naturally Devil's Cub isn't as focused on them as These Old Shades was but they all get a good amount of page-time and I loved their scenes. I really liked Mary as a character too although I couldn't see what she saw in Vidal. Even his own father thought Mary deserved better!

I will be reading the other books in the Alastair series (Regency Buck and An Infamous Army) but I've read quite a few of Heyer's books this year and I think I'm going to take a break from her for a while. I don't want to get through them all too quickly!

Rating: 3/5

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