The Devil’s Cub is one of those books where, when I think about it logically/analytically, it pushes my buttons and I’m like “oh hell no!” Like Dominic, the “hero”—he’s a petulant, hot-tempered child. Mary, the heroine, even basically says so:
But it was not a notorious Marquis with whom she had fallen in love; it was the wild, sulky, unmanageable boy that she saw behind the rake. “I could manage him,” she sighed. “oh, but I could!”
Good grief, what woman in her right mind would willingly swoon over a man she knows is an over-grown child that she’ll have to manage the rest of her life?! Mary, are you nuts? Dominic kills a man in a stupid fight at a gambling hall and is forced to flee the country. He convinces a silly girl who is in love with him to run off with him so he won’t be bored/lonely in exile. When said girl’s sister shows up to put a stop to the plan, he decides she’ll do just as well and forcibly kidnaps her. Then he tries to rape her and is only stopped when she gets violently sea sick. Later, he threatens her with physical violence again and she has to shoot him. I mean, the guy’s a prince, right? What girl wouldn’t be crazy for him? O.o
I can’t help but love this book. It’s one of my all time favorites. I know what you’re thinking—I’m nuts. But bear with me a moment.
Dominic is emotionally such a child, in so many ways, that it’s oddly affecting when we see him start to develop some self-awareness (and a soupcon of maturity) and realizes how abominably he’s treated Mary. And for once—highly refreshing in a romance novel—the main characters are able to articulate exactly what it is that they like about each other. It’s not all insta-love or lust-based. There is genuine affection and regard between the characters. In realizing how badly he’s treated Mary, Dominic realizes just how much of a gem she is and how desperately he needs and wants her in his life. Of course, he then turns crazy-psycho jealous and attempts to kill anyone who even looks at Mary, which ruins the effect a little, but it’s Dominic—baby steps.
Then there’s Mary Challoner—she’s smart, strong, and no-nonsense. I love Mary, and I’m rooting for her throughout the book. Her family is hideous and awful to her, and I want her to get everything she wants in life because she deserves to be happy. Since Mary wants Dominic, then I have no choice but to want her to end up with Dominic, even though I would beat him over the head with a frying pan if I ever met him in real life.
In between this wonderful love story we have…chaos. I mean complete and utter chaos. Dominic’s cousin Juliana and her wayward romance with her beau, Dominic’s parents—the completely nutty Leonie and staid (but sociopathic) Justin from These Old Shades, and Dominic’s uncle Rupert, who spends the entire mad dash across the continent to stop Dominic before he either marries Mary or kills her worrying about the safety of a case of brandy he bought along the way. I mean, this is madcap WAAAYYY beyond Oscar (the screwball comedy with Sylvester Stallone, which I love) or Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The best review/synopsis of events I’ve ever read of this book is the one at The Toybox. Yup, that’s pretty much The Devil’s Cub in a nutshell. In any other book, Dominic’s behavior would be a deal breaker, but in this book and in Heyer’s hands, it’s somehow madcap tom-foolery that is not only acceptable, it’s enjoyable. It’s so over the top that it’s impossible to take any of it seriously. All the reader can do is sit back and enjoy the ride!
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. Her second novel, Thereafter (Afterlife #2), will be released May 1, 2014.