The Ravenels #5 – Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
The Ravenels #5 – Devil’s Daughter
By Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon Books (2019)
When I started on Hello Stranger, I already knew I won’t stop reading until all books in the Ravenels series were thoroughly devoured. True enough, here I am, having continued with Devil’s Daughter, the fifth novel in the series.
As a rule of thumb, all Lisa Kleypas novels that had the word “Devil” in its title would be connected to Sebastian (previously the Viscount St Vincent, now the Duke of Kingston). Devil’s Daughter is about Phoebe, Sebastian and Evie’s first child, whose birth was mentioned in the epilogue of A Wallflower Christmas. Phoebe’s love interest in the novel was one of the most adorable character throughout this series: Weston Ravenel! ❤
Phoebe and West met each other for the first time during Pandora Ravenel’s wedding to Phoebe’s brother Gabriel. Although that was their first ever encounter, Phoebe had already known about the existence of West ever since she was eight years old. And she had hated West throughout the years.
Phoebe’s best friend since young was Henry Larson, the Lord Clare. Although Henry had a weak constitution and was sick most of his life, his parents had stubbornly sent him to boarding school, hoping that the experience would toughen him up. Instead, during his days at boarding school, Henry had been constantly targeted by bullies – and one of those big, mean bullies was none other than West Ravenel. Henry regularly exchanged correspondence with Phoebe – expressing his distress over West’s doings – and she, in turn, had developed an abhorrence towards the said bully.
When they turned older, Phoebe and Henry had married each other, despite knowing that he would not have long with her. Regardless of their short marriage, they were blessed with two sons, namely the now four-year-old Justin and the infant Stephen. Henry had passed away from his illness while Phoebe was pregnant with Stephen.
Now that Phoebe was face-to-face with the man who had been horrible towards her late husband, she had mixed feelings about it. There was no use berating or resenting West for something he had done while he was still a little boy – especially after she learnt that West had neither parental love nor privilege while growing up, unlike she or Henry had been. Phoebe was open to let go of what had happened in the past, but at the same time she found it very discomforting to endure several days at the Ravenels’ estate, knowing quite sure that West Ravenel was within the vicinity when she was only hoping to avoid meeting him at all. A more concerning issue for Phoebe was the fact that she had felt strange when he was around – as if she was falling in love like a girl once again.
***WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!***
West had also felt an attraction as soon as he set eyes on Phoebe, but he was already convinced that she was too far out of his reach. West knew his tarnished past would always be a hindrance in his search for a happily ever after. He had been a misbehaving drunkard who also happened to be a rake and a sloth. Only in recent years had he reformed his ways, when his brother Devon had inherited the Ravenel estate and had appointed West as the estate manager. Since then, West had gotten rid of his unruly ways and had been a more responsible man.
However, despite West’s self-deprecating thoughts, his position as the manager of the thriving Ravenel estate and farmlands had actually put him at an advantage when conversing with Phoebe. She badly needed advice on managing the Clare estate which had been inherited by her son Justin after Henry’s passing.
Since Justin was still under aged, his inheritance had been kept in a trust, guarded by Henry’s cousin Edward Larson. It was Henry himself who had appointed Edward as executor of the trust, and Phoebe had respected Henry’s judgement, convinced that if Henry trusted Edward, then she should too.
However, Edward had been clear with his intentions to keep Phoebe ignorant about all things pertaining to the Clare estate. According to Edward, the managing of the estate should not be burdened on Phoebe, who, as a woman, should only concern herself with managing the household. While logical, Phoebe’s father the Duke of Kingston, as well as Gabriel, had thought that Phoebe should have been more involved in the managing of the Clare estate. The estate was her son’s right, after all, and she should be more concerned. The Duke and Gabriel had then encouraged Phoebe to learn more about land management from West.
Phoebe and West struck a cordial relationship based on mutual interest of managing their respective estate and farmlands. West shared a wealth of knowledge on estate managing, and Phoebe really appreciated it. The attraction between them grew, but at the time both were determined to keep apart from the other. While West was convinced that he did not deserve to have someone like Phoebe, Phoebe was trying to be distant because she was keeping in mind Henry’s last wish for her.
While on his deathbed, Henry not only had appointed Edward as executor of the trust, but he was also hopeful that Phoebe would marry Edward someday. And she had considered marriage to Edward for the sake of honouring Henry’s wishes. However, Phoebe had to admit that she had felt no attraction at all towards Edward: she liked him, but never to the extent of what she had felt towards West. On Edward’s side, he himself was always amiable, but he never displayed any signs of real attraction towards her either – very unlike West, who had managed a few stolen kisses despite their short acquaintance.
It was not until Phoebe returned to her home in the Clare lands that she began to doubt Edward. Refreshed from the land management ‘lessons’ from West, she was determined to be more involved with the managing of the Clare estate. But Edward was adamant to keep her out of it, to the extent of giving very lame excuses with the hopes of deterring her. But that had made Phoebe even more suspicious and determined: while Edward was away on a trip to the Continent, Phoebe had retrieved the estate account ledgers that were kept in Edward’s office. And, deeply missing West, she had summoned him to help her with the accounts.
West spent several days with Phoebe and her children at the Clare estate. And Phoebe was now more convinced than ever that she preferred – and wanted – West over Edward. However, West was still distant – despite his love for Phoebe, he felt unworthy of her and believed that she deserved someone much better. West could not imagine that someday in the future, people would recall his past indiscretions and that would embarrass Phoebe and her sons; not to mention the fact that one day Justin and Stephen might discover that he was the one who had bullied their father at boarding school. Fully understanding what West had felt, Phoebe was determined to prove that she still want him: before long, it was Phoebe who began to seduce West.
"If you won’t promise me forever, West Ravenel... I’ll take what I can have of you." – Phoebe, page 260
Meanwhile, during his stay at the Clare estate, West had helped Phoebe in many matters pertaining to land management. While going through the estate’s account ledgers, West had discovered some discrepancies that could not be simply ignored. West sought the help of police commissioner Ethan Ransom to find out about the breach of money. And Ethan’s revelation resulted in Phoebe finally rejecting any further considerations of having Edward as a potential husband.
It turned out that Edward had had a relationship with a common-born woman, Ruth Parris, and they had had a child together. And Edward had siphoned off some money from Justin’s inheritance to build a cosy house complete with carriage and servants for Ruth Parris and her son. It seemed that the only reason for Edward’s determination to marry Phoebe – despite already having another woman in his life – was no other than the fact that the marriage would make Justin’s inheritance legal to him as well, and he would be able to use the money as he sees fit. Edward, born with no title and no lands, would also get to elevate his social status if he married the daughter of a duke, whose son also had a title.
Distraught, Phoebe requested for Ethan Ransom to do all he could to immediately remove Edward as trustee to Justin’s inheritance. When Edward returned from his trip, Phoebe had let him know that she had discovered his secret and would be ending his trusteeship for good. Fortunately Edward was a mellow-tempered man and had not been harsh against her. However, Edward later approached West and threatened to shoot him, though his violence did not look convincing at all. Edward rather wanted to express his distress rather than resorting to violence. While threatening West with a pistol, Edward had been caught and disarmed by the Duke of Kingston himself.
Since meeting West at the family wedding, the Duke of Kingston had long preferred to have West as his son-in-law. He had seen in West a very capable man who not only can be a good husband to Phoebe, but a great father to Justin and Stephen as well. In fact, Justin and Stephen had liked West very much, too, and had looked at him like a father figure.
Regarding West’s feelings of unworthiness, the Duke reminded him that he, himself, did not deserve to marry the Duchess all those decades ago either. What West needed most was courage to carry on to start a new life with Phoebe. The Duke had given his blessings for Phoebe to marry West. Following the personal encounter with the Duke, West finally decided to take a chance at a new life and marry Phoebe.