Redonk Nutshell: Affianced strangers are forced to reassess their perceptions of one another when the date of their wedding finally rolls around

I had previously read and very much enjoyed Julia London’s The Year of Living Scandalously, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up this book upon reading the synopsis.  Michael & Abigail first meet on Abigail’s father’s ship when she is but a child, and a feisty child at that.  She shadows Michael, borderline harassing him, until he pushes her away by more or less murdering her doll.  Abigail is eventually sent away to school by her father, where she grows up across the world, eventually settling in Virginia with relatives.  All the while, her father arranges a marriage between Abigail and Michael.  Abigail receives continual letters from her father of Michael’s undying affection and love, and she comes to form an idea of him, an idea she falls in love with.

Meanwhile, Michael signs the marriage contract in order to keep his family out of debt, thinking that he’ll be able to fulfill his obligations in time in order to cry off.  When Abigail’s father dies, it leaves Michael left to honor his agreement, a fact he is far from happy about.

It’s one continual misunderstanding to the next upon Abigail’s arrival.  Her bright eyed and optimistic outlook immediately wins the affection of Michael’s staff, but bewilders Michael altogether.  He was expecting the hellion of a child he remembered from his youth, not the beautiful and endearing woman standing in his home.  Abigail’s romanticized expectations of Michael are crushed when she realizes the deception her father intricately wove around both of them.  They marry in order to fulfill the contract, but the relationship between them remains uncertain while they struggle to find common ground between them.

The Devil’s Love was an enjoyable read, but it didn’t rock my world.  In fact, I found myself wishing I had borrowed it from the library instead of purchasing it.  The plot plods along somewhat predictably, and I found myself spacing out here and there.  I was committed to seeing Michael & Abigail through, and I wanted to see how they ended up getting along.  That in itself was really what pulled me through.

Overall, this was a nice read.  Nice.  Not wonderful but not bad either.

The Devil’s Love by Julia London, 400 pgs, November 1998

Rating: C

Romance: 2/5         Raunch: 2/5

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