Previously I wrote about a villain who became the hero of the romance at the end of a book series. (See August 7, 2016 post https://louisebergin.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/the-villain-as-the-hero/) I also have a favorite book, which has the hero acting as the villain. It is The Devil’s Cub by the great Georgette Heyer. She is one of my all time favorite authors. I have a lot of favorite authors and I’ve collected all their books. They provide me with wonderful scenes and stories to relive again and again.
The Devil’s Cub is a sequel to These Old Shades in that this book’s hero, Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal, is the son of the previous hero and heroine, and he is just as wicked and uncaring as his father was. The story opens with highwaymen attempting to rob Vidal’s coach. Cool as you please, the hero shoots one of the highwaymen, causing the other two to flee. When the groom asks what they should do, Vidal states in surprise, they should drive on to the party to which he was heading. The body? Vidal points out he can’t show up at a party with a corpse. At the party, again the question of what do to with the body is brought up by one of the guests because seeing it laying in the road might disturb the ladies. Vidal admits he hadn’t thought of that and orders the servant to dispose of the body.
Vidal also fights a duel, seriously wounding his opponent to the danger of death. As the survivor and potential murderer, he must flee to the safety of France, out of the reach of English law. However, he doesn’t plan to go alone, bringing as a companion/new mistress a young lady who is trying to entice him into marriage.
And this man is the hero?
Yes. He meets his heroine when the sister of the young lady takes her place, and he ends up in France with the wrong woman.
Mary Challoner expected to the man trying to seduce her sister would be angry at the switch. She didn’t expect to end up on the other side of the English Channel. When Vidal intends to substitute her as his new mistress, it takes drastic action on her part to successfully stop him.
For the first time, he has met his match. She challenges him and cares for him—a combination he cannot resist. He falls deeply in love and tries to make amends for the wrong he’s done to her reputation by offering marriage. She sees this as entrapping him the same way her sister attempted. It takes a full book, but eventually love triumphs.
I adore this story because Mary is no weak heroine. She’s practical and does what needs to be done without bemoaning her fate. It is this strong approach to life that touches Vidal’s heart. For Mary, as she tells the hero’s father, the wildness and passion within Vidal are what pull her to him. I guess one could say this is a relationship of sense and sensibility.
I have read this story over and over again for more than twenty years. I identify with the heroine, but I also fall in love with the villainous hero.