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A novel by Georgette Heyer, first published in 1932. Devil's Cub is a sequel to her 1926 novel These Old Shades centred on the next generation of the Alastair family.

Devil's Cub is set in England and France around 1780. Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal and the eponymous Cub, finds himself having to flee England after a drunken duel - not so much because of the legal ramifications, but because his father, the Duke of Avon, is losing patience with his constant scandals. Meanwhile Miss Mary Challoner, a respectable young lady, plans to save her sister from the ruin that would follow becoming Vidal's mistress. Inevitably her plan goes awry and Mary ends up in France with Vidal. Subsequent adventures involve duels, shooting people with pistols, running away, chasing in coaches, long lost friends, a confused parson, more duels, lots of mad Alastairs and some excellent red wine.

The Alastair family appears in three of Heyer's novels (These Old Shades, Devil's Cub and An Infamous Army) as well as a prototype of the Duke of Avon appearing in her first novel, The Black Moth. The Alastair family are favourites of fans, who enjoy the reckless, self-absorbed but hilarious adventures they generate wherever they go. Mary Challoner gives readers a window onto the Alastair family, a chance to see them through the eyes of a sensible and relatively ordinary young woman drawn into their orbit; she plays the role in this narrative of Dr. Watson or Doctor Who's companion.

Although Devil's Cub is the second novel featuring the Alastair family, it is the third in the sequence of books exploring the set of characters introduced as the Belmanoirs and refined as the Alastairs. Many of the plot devices and themes from the first two books appear in Devil’s Cub: a respectable young lady is abducted and taken to France; she threatens to shoot her abductor; there is a lengthy stay in a French inn recovering from a bullet wound. Each of these situations is turned upside down this time, as Heyer has the hero do the abducting, and the heroine do the shooting.

The young Marquis of Vidal is not merely a further development of the villain-turned-hero character introduced as the Duke of Andover and continued as the Duke of Avon. His personality has far more in common with his mother, Leonie, the heroine of These Old Shades. They are reckless, impetuous, short-tempered, endearing, deeply affectionate and obstinately loyal to those whom they love. I am deliberately understating when I say that Leonie is one of Heyer’s most beloved characters: not just readers, but clearly Heyer herself loved Leonie. In Vidal we see Leonie remade as a hero, creating the same crazy situations his mother found herself in twenty-five years earlier.

I am, it must be stated, hopelessly biased on the subject of Devil’s Cub. You would not believe the crazy names I had to put on the list to be crossed off by my horrified husband so that in the end he agreed to name our son Vidal.

I feel it is appropriate that I end with a request that Heyer readers, wherever and whenever you read this, raise your glass in a toast to –

 

Dijon!

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