A twist of fate . . .
Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.
A clash of wills . . .
Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny – and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:
Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?
Source: ARC from Piatkus Books via NetGalley
It is so good to have a new historical romance from one of my favourite authors. My expectations were high, and thankfully they were met – although I do still have some issues with a Victorian hero named Devon (but then I live in Devon, so seeing it as a name is always weird to me). The set up is kind of similar to the Hathaways, since there’s an unexpected inheritance of an earldom for a man who lives beyond the bounds of polite society, the estate is encumbered, there are three young women without doweries or much polite education and it’s set in Hampshire again, but the comparisons (mostly) end there.
Devon Ravenel is a rake – well, actually, to be honest he’s more of a wastrel. He’s spent his life avoiding as much responsibility as possible and succeeding by never being entirely serious. He has fun, he mucks about with his younger brother but avoids all debt. He’s not a fool, he just has no use for respectability. Until he inherits an earldom – then he has no choice. But he doesn’t intend to be burdened for long. Nope, he plans to break the entail and sell the whole lot off. After all, these are the 1870s and agriculture just doesn’t pay anymore.
Even though he’s not immediately likeable, I actually did like Devon throughout this book. He doesn’t want the title or the estates and he’s honest about it. He’s not a snob, he doesn’t care for useless history if all it means is a noose of debt around his neck. He’s a realist. However, he’s also got a temper, which doesn’t make him violent but it does make him prone to cutting comments and ungentlemanly conduct. Especially where Kathleen is concerned.
These two are a quarrelsome pair. Kathleen has a tendency to always think the worst of Devon, while he vents his frustrating in cruel words. They definitely bring out the worst in each other, though mostly because they’re fighting their attraction at the same time. I mostly liked Kathleen too, although her prim and proper attitude was a bit much at times and she definitely has an impulsive streak that occasionally turns her judgemental. Her interactions with Devon always strike sparks, varying from anger to outright lust, which certainly keeps things interesting.
The real joy of this book for me, though, was in the other characters – Devon’s brother, West, and the three young cousins, Helena and the twins, Cassandra and Pandora. I loved those twins, they’re a bit young for their age and quite wild, but they’re also fun. Helena is much quieter and begins a promising secondary romance that I cannot wait to read more of. As for West, I thought I wasn’t going to like him at first, but I think he stole my heart in this book.
The story itself rumbles along quite nicely for the most part, although I do feel like certain aspects of the plot got a little too angsty towards the end, and the ending itself is pretty swift, however this is still a good, thoroughly enjoyable LK historical novel. After all a good LK is better than most others out there, and when she’s at her best she’s outstanding. For me this was a lovely start to this new series, filled with all the things I want from an LK historical, and a few extras too – a gorgeous Arabian horse, a lovely old valet and of course those twins. I can’t wait to see where this series heads next.
Cold-Hearted Rake is out October 27th!
Visit Lisa Kleypas for more details.