The Northern Devil is a great read as we follow our central characters traveling across America by train in bad weather. Lucas Grainger has sworn never to take a wife, forging his own life path different to the expectation of his parents; Rachel Davis is a young widow whose life is in danger because of the money her first child will inherit. When she is kidnapped by the villainous Mr Collins, who preparing to forcibly marry her to his son, she realizes how unsafe she is as an unmarried woman with so much money at stake. When she escapes and bumps into Lucas, someone she has known for five years, it seems sensible for them to marry each other. In fact, Lucas comes to terms with this major life decision surprisingly quickly, considering he has vowed never to marry.
However, Mr Collins and his evil son, Maitland, are continuing to plot, this time against Donovan, a friend of Lucas's who is on his way to inspect a silver mine and is walking into a trap. Telegraph messages don't seem to be getting through to Donovan, so Lucas and Rachel begin a race across America with their Pullman train to warn him. Unfortunately, Collins and Maitland are on an earlier train with a snowplow. As the weather sets in and railway personnel are bribed to hinder Lucas's train and endanger the lives of many passengers, it seems less likely that they can reach Donovan's mine in time to warn him.
The writing and descriptions of the travels in this book are very enjoyable. The world of the rich with their personal train carriages is fascinating, as is the way that money and bribery seem to work so effectively. We learn a little about Lucas and Rachel and the hang-ups that they each bring to the marriage, but in some ways these are rather easily overcome. Sometimes the plotting seems a little loose; for example, Rachel is remarkably good at escaping from custody, and the delays that Lucas's train experience somehow don't make as much difference at the end as one would have thought, but the story carries you along enough so that these aspects don't matter too much. Characterization isn't particularly strong in that the reader doesn't feel that they really know the characters by the end of the book, the text sometimes not helped by the point of view changing mid-chapter with no warning, but the interest of the setting makes up for a lot of this. The Northern Devil isn't an un-put-down-able, book but it's an enjoyable read about a rough and difficult time in American history.