Clara Dawson always followed the rules, until one terrifying night when her inheritance is stolen and the man responsible is left for dead. Desperate to outrun her troubles, she accepts a governess position at the crumbling gothic manor of the mysterious Ravensdale family. Caring for three orphaned children gives her a purpose, but her vulgar employer, Bly Ravensdale, holds dangerous secrets that may shatter Clara’s newfound safe haven. Yet this stubborn brute compels Clara to abandon her etiquette at every turn, and she can’t stay away.
Disowned by his family, Bly Ravensdale travels the globe as an explorer and agent of the British Crown until his brother’s passing leaves him saddled with three young wards. Charged with returning them to the family’s vacant ancestral seat in the English countryside—the one place he wishes to avoid at all costs—Bly quits the role of spy to play family man. But a man nicknamed Devil rarely gets a clean start in life, even with the aid of the prudish yet lovely governess, Clara. Despite her cold exterior, Bly finds himself drawn to her, even as an enemy from his deadly past resurfaces seeking vengeance. Can he protect all that he has suddenly come to hold dear?
Publisher and Release Date: Rebecca Paula, September 2015
Time and Setting: Yorkshire, England 1882
Genre: Historical Gothic Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by Natalie
Clara is a woman who has spent her entire life toeing the line. Never really accepted by society because of the circumstances of her birth, she has followed the rules as a way of ensuring her survival. But when her existence becomes threatened by a sinister plot, she decides to make a run for it and finds herself accepting a position as a governess; a suitable place for a young woman to blend in and find safety.
Bly Ravensdale has lived a life of intrigue as an explorer and agent for the crown. Nicknamed ‘Devil’, he long ago gave up any thoughts of redemption, but his brother’s death leaves three orphaned children in his care and when he is forced to take his charges to the ancestral home he finds himself in a place he would rather forget.
When I first began this book I was hesitant because I don’t like starting series when they first come out- call me impatient – and would rather wait until all or at least most of the books are available so I can devour them in one weekend. I was also a little worried about the plot of Etiquette with the Devil, one that couldn’t help but remind me of Jane Eyre.
Happily the book was worth reading, even though it IS the first in a series. Clara is a very strong character who handles her situation in an original and resilient manner so that it is easy to find yourself rooting for her. Bly can be a little heavy-handed; he is a sexier, more rugged version of Rochester, and like him, he doesn’t seem to believe that he could ever deserve redemption, especially in the form of the love and devotion of a kind woman.
I really enjoyed Etiquette with the Devil. There were times that the writing could have used some extra polish. but overall the premise is a good one, and is an interesting take on a familiar story. Clara hasn’t let her circumstances overwhelm her and she becomes a formidable foil to Bly’s demanding, overwhelming male presence. I am happy that Rebecca Paula managed to give her a spine so that it didn’t seem as though she were just moping around yearning after Bly. The book is fast-paced and has a tendency to jump back and forth in the time-line, giving the reader little snippets of information when needed. I wanted more of both characters and was sad to end the book; overall this is a strong story from Rebecca Paula and I look forward to reading more in the series.