November TBR Challenge: Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Or, THE EYES HAVE IT: A Textual Analysis

  • Devil's Bride by Stephanie LaurensTitle: Devil’s Bride
  • Series: Cynster, Book 1
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Published: Avon, March 1998
  • Source: Purchased
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Tropes: Alpha-Duke, Repetitive Repetition
  • Quick blurb: Alpha-Duke and…oh, whatever, it’s got an Alpha-Duke, what more do you need to know?
  • Quick review: Sorry, can’t hear you, MY EYE IS TWITCHING.
  • Grade: D

The theme for SuperWendy’s 2015 TBR Challenge for November was “It’s All About The Hype (a book or author that got everybody talking).”

I bought Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens a few years ago because it has eight bajillion four- and five-star ratings and umpteen reviews full o’ squee. I’ve seen countless romance readers include it in their Desert Island Keepers and All-Time Favorites and First Alpha Hero and Gateway to Romland lists.

But, alas. This book wasn’t for me. In fact, I’m crossing Laurens off my list permanently because me and this book did not get along AT ALL. And not just because the cover is so boring (see alternatives below).

There was nothing inherently wrong with the characters or plot or storytelling. It was all the usual blowhard alpha-duke and the strong-yet-vulnerable orphaned heroine. A bit of suspense, some smooching, yada yada yada. Probably a Grand Epic Romance when it was first published 17 years ago, and I probably would have given it a solid C.


Like most readers, I have a few pet peeves. Sometimes it’s just a shrug-off “oh, geez, AS IF” kind of thing. Sometimes it ramps up to an “oh, hell no” internal mini-rant.

But sometimes…[you’ll have to imagine me shaking my head very sadly and dramatically]…sometimes a certain pet peeve devolves into a full-on “OH DEAR LORD MAKE IT STOP FFS HOW CAN ANYONE NOT NOTICE THIS WTF WHERE ARE MY CRANKYPANTS I NEED THEM RIGHT NOW” mess of slobbering incoherence.

The quirk that triggers such non-stop cringing is Repetitive Repetition. Authors using the same words and phrases over and over and over. I have no idea why my brain picks up on these things, but once those little seeds are planted, I CAN’T UNSEE THEM.

It’s happened before. I had to cross Grace Burrowes off my list because of her obsession with aristocratic titles and with smells. DEAR GOD, THE SCENTS AND AROMAS AND FRAGRANCES JUST KILL ME NOW.

Other NEVER AGAIN offenders offended me with hair and animal metaphors (sometimes at the same time) and apologies and grinning (sometimes at the same time).

I’m getting an eye twitch just thinking about those bullet lists. Which is ironic. Doubly ironic. Because (1) I ♥ bullet lists; and (2) Stephanie Laurens has A Thing for EYES.


You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The methodology

About two-thirds of the way through the book, I need to unclench my fingers from my Kindle, so I went into Calibre and converted the ebook file into a PDF and a Word doc. Then I ran the Word doc through an online text analyzer to get a breakdown of common words and phrases.

I copied and pasted the results into a spreadsheet and was thrilled to find quantifiable data (YES I COLOR-CODED IT SHUT UP) that justified the Wearing of the Cranky Pants. Then I went back into the Kindle file and the PDF and the Word doc to validate those completely objective findings.

I can say without hesitation that this book is filled to the gills with Repetitive Repetition. That means the language is repetitively repetitive. As in, you know, repetition that repeats itself repeatedly.

Are you ready for this? It’s kind of scary, so I’ll hold your hand.


523 uses of the word EYE

Yes, you read that correctly. Five hundred and twenty three (523) uses of the word “eye” (including plurals and verbs).

Do you need a moment? I did. But TOO BAD SO SAD HERE’S MORE IN CONTEXT. (Click on images to view them in all their glorious glory.)

Screenshot of facing pages with 11 uses of EYE Screenshot of facing pages with 15 uses of EYE Screenshot of facing pages with 15 uses of EYE

Not that bad, you say? Everyone has eyes, you say? Pshaw. We’re just getting started. Those eyes do more than just open and close! They also:

  • Look (482)
  • Blink (92)
  • Stare (87)
  • Narrow (63)
  • Glare (33)
  • Gleam (22)
  • Glint (12)
  • Scan (32)
  • Flash (27)

And, of course, the gazes gazed…

Gaze = 275

And the glances glanced…

Glance = 235

Excuse me for a moment.


We interrupt this blog post for a mental health break.

Make it stop


Thank you for your patience.

But wait – there’s more!

We can’t leave out the raising of the eyeBROW….

Brow = 66

And the eyeBROWS plural….

Brows = 80

And the lowering of the eyeLIDS…

Eyelids = 29

And the fluttering of the eyeLASHES.

Lashes = 22

And in case you were wondering, the Alpha-Duke has green eyes.

Green = 63

Pale green. Pale green like a moonlit lake in winter. A Tuesday night in winter, with the moon not quite full and the temperature just chilly enough pebble her nipples but not so cold as to form frost on his perpetually raised left eyebrow.

Excuse me for a moment.


We interrupt this blog post for a mental health break.



Thank you for your patience.

Heads and faces and lips and whatnot


The word “head” is used 372 times. These heads are primarily used for nodding.

Nod = 161

There are some noticeable gender differences in head movements as well. She “inclined her head” 24 times, but he “bent his head” only 16 times, which indicates a significant height differential.

On the other hand (we’ll get that that body part in a sec, hang in there), he shakes his head 32 times, while she only manages 20. From this we can conclude that she is 32.5% more likely to be exasperating.

Hands are equally vital to the story, as both noun and verb, appearing 520 (five hundred and twenty) times. Sometimes, the hands are doing naughty things.

Screenshot of facing pages with 15 uses of HAND

And here’s a quick bullet list (I ♥ bullet lists) of other body parts:

  • Face* = 336
  • Lips** = 276
  • Arm = 236
  • Finger = 142
  • Make it stopChest = 117
  • Shoulder = 112
  • Chin = 78
  • Muscle = 71
  • Breast = 67
  • Thigh = 64
  • Skin = 63
  • Hair = 62
  • Hip = 49
  • Teeth = 44
  • Waist = 41
  • Cheek = 40
  • Mouth = 39
  • Throat = 33
  • Nose = 32
  • Tongue = 32
  • Leg = 31
  • Ear = 30
  • Toe = 21
  • Flesh = 20
  • Veins = 20
  • Wrist = 11

*His face has planes. LOTS OF PLANES.

Planes of his face = 22

**I’ll bet you’re curious about what those lips are doing, aren’t you?

  • Smiling = 217
  • Frowning = 162
  • Grinning = 54
  • Scowling = 16

Speaking of scowling….


We interrupt this blog post for a mental health break.

Make it stop


Deep and wide. And hard.

Things get VERY DEEP in this story….

Deep = 210

Probably because of all the sinking (48), slumping, (14), sprawling (13), shifting (111), striding (25), shrieking (19), strolling (49), sliding (86), gliding (13), wriggling (22), quivering (19), shivering (39), shuddering (22), shaking (129), shrugging (48), studying (52), sighing (62), sweeping (44), swinging (69), swelling (30), swirling (10), swallowing (35), twisting (30), twining (11), trapping (42), tugging (33), turning (349), tensing (50), tangling (19), and, of course, throbbing (18) and thrusting (9).

Don’t worry — the deepening is often followed by straightening (62) and stiffening (21).

Some of the deeps are breaths. There’s a LOT of deep breathing going on.

Deep breath = 40

Not all the breaths are deep. They’re also huge, desperate, tight, panting, ragged, rattly and harsh, sudden, determined, bated, shuddering, steadying, shaky, collective and even EXPLOSIVE and PORTENTOUS.

In all, the word “breath” appears 219 times.

But to be fair, we should probably subtract the 24 times the heroine was “breathless.” She was breathless because of all the caressing (56) and pleasure (51) and passion (38) and possessing (49) and all the impromptu (11) sensations (37).


I’m not even going to beg your pardon for the interruption anymore.


Adverbing the adverbly adverbs

Actions in this book often move slowly (86) and simply (37) and softly (18) and carefully (15) and seriously (13) and steadily (30) and fleetingly (10) and serenely (6) and barely (69) and certainly (23) and perfectly (24).

Don’t let that fool you! We’re also subjected to wild (41) fits of immediately (52), abruptly (34), instantly (22), quickly and swiftly (20 each), desperately (18), briskly (12), heavily (11), rapidly (10), arrogantly (6), flagrantly (6) and even (*gasp*) TANTALIZINGLY (5) and RAPACIOUSLY (3).



These are getting closer and closer together, did you notice?


I’ll just be over here in the corner whimpering.



I really wanted to love this book. I tried. I finished it. But after reading the excerpts from other Laurens books at the end of Devil’s Bride, I just can’t ever read her again. She’s good, but not worth wasting a Xanax.


The Germans know how to do romance covers.

DevilsBride_Cover2 DevilsBride_Cover4 DevilsBride_Cover3

6 thoughts on “November TBR Challenge: Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens

  1. BEST. post. on repetitive repetition. ever.
    I actually snorted coffee at one point. So thank you for that.

    I have a similar issue with Kathleen Gilles Seidel – she picks body parts on her characters and then majors on them until I want to just beat her (or the characters) over the head with an inanimate object. But the worst? When an author finds an obscure word that they really like and use it to death – in the same novel – it can NEVER be unseen – it drives me nuts!

    ALSO – the cover with man astriding (cos that is TOTALLY what he is doing!) the horse? (*Valancy dies of laughter*)


  2. I’m really sorry that you did this to yourself. I read a few Laurens and don’t remember having this issue with her writing — but I had plenty of other issues, so I haven’t read any more of her books.

  3. LOL! I’ve enjoyed a few Laurens books, but they tend to be the ones that are considered by most to be very different than her Cynster books. I have yet to make it all the way through a Cynster book.

  4. I cannot thank you enough for this–even though the repeated repetitive repetition was not one of the reasons I had to stop reading Ms Laurens’ work.

    (And, in fact, Devil’s Bride is one of my favorites of hers, heh)

  5. Jen_FairyTales says:

    That was awesome! I read this so many years ago that I don’t remember much about my feelings on it. I do know that I gave up on Stephanie Laurens and the Cynsters by book 3 so that should tell me something. I think my main issue was the Alpha Duke aspect which I don’t particularly care for. I usually don’t notice repetitive language, but I can tell how annoying that would be if that is how your brain works. Tons of points for the breakdown and the hilarious pics.

  6. Darlynne says:

    I’m reading Cynster sister book three now, The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae, and they’ve been arching their brows at each other all the time, like semaphores or something. I feared facial cramps would set in permanently; “If you keep doing that your face will get stuck that way.”

    You’ve done the hard work, Kelly, positively Herculean. I hope you can rest now.

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