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Cold-Hearted Rake Mass Market Paperback – October 27, 2015
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“Intricately and elegantly crafted, intensely romantic, and with secondary characters and an epilogue that will leave readers anxiously awaiting more. A gratifying series starter from a not-to-be-missed romance author.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“insightful characterization, an abundance of super-charged sexual chemistry, a dash of dry humor, and a to-die-for hero, all of which will have the author’s legions of fans giddy with delight at her triumphant return to historical romance.” (Booklist (starred review))
“A cadre of three-dimensional characters who captivate from the moment you meet them and a multilayered plot that allows the characters to grow will keep fans intrigued by this addictive, rewarding story. [...] This delightful, compelling story is the first in Kleypas’s new Victorian series about the Ravenel family.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Readers are introduced to the unforgettable characters and their original personalities through a delightful storyline peppered with sharp repartee and steamy sensuality. Yet it is the change in the characters’ motivations that intrigues and charms readers, moving this novel onto that special spot on readers’ keeper shelves.” (RT Book Reviews (top pick))
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She’s a RITA award-winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.
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Top Customer Reviews
I love Lisa Kleypas and will be a forever fan. The follow-up in the series is started in this book and the sneak peek is delicious. The first chapter reminds me of my favorite Kleypas book "The Devil in Winter." I hope it's better.
There are too many people here and all are given short shrift in character development and there are too many little extras and period trivia that divert the reader from the main romance(s). We are treated to bits on mourning and mourning clothes and black dyes; tenants and estate management; horse training; department stores in the 1870s; differences between store-bought and tailored clothing (especially shirts); orchid growing; railroad travel; Christmas decorating; and more and more and more. It's as if Kleypas had been doing lots and lots of research on the period during her hiatus and wanted to include as much of her info as she could. Well, some readers do complain about the lack of historical accuracy in HRs but there is limit to the amount of factoids I want in a romance.
What we don't get enough of is insight into the characters and their lives prior to the beginning of the book. For example, I am left totally bewildered by the three Ravenel young women and their absurdly sheltered lives (not to mention agog at the 19-year-old Tedious Twins who behave as if they were 9).
And nobody's cold-hearted here, but nobody warms my heart either. The hero and his brother, who were rather useless hedonists before the hero inherits the earldom from the heroine's late husband, obviously were actually good souls. The younger brother West seemed to be a dissolute drunkard but all it took was to have a mission in his life to dry him up and set him straight. And all our rakish hero needs to straighten himself out is a good look at the heroine and the idea that she and the three sisters and the tenants, etc., all need his support and help.
So easy. Not much conflict. A bit of a problem with the heroine and her metaphoric hair-shirt and messed-up childhood that keep her from consistency in her dealings with the hero. Many reviewers have said they didn't like her. I didn't know enough about her or anybody else in the story to know if I did or did not like them. This book needed less filler (of unimportant but very interesting information) and more background on the characters and more character development.
The 5-year HR hiatus also did not do Kleypas any favors because in that time we have had a lot of very good authors filling the hole Kleypas left us with. Authors that give us very interesting and complex and well-developed characters. Authors such as Cecilia Grant, Sherry Thomas, Jayne Fresina, Erin Satie, Rose Lerner, Theresa Romain, and more whose names aren't coming to my feeble brain at the moment.
I won't pretend she was an easy character to like because she wasn't. But, my respect and admiration for her grew along with the progress of the story. From the beginning, she made no secret of her conviction that the way to deal with the insolvent earldom was to restore the estate to prosperity, not sell it off piece by piece. She was going to take responsibility for her three young sisters-in-law, despite having no legal or moral obligation to do so and, given the state of her jointure, limited funds to support them. Out of context, it might seem fitting for an earl's widow to tackle all these issues. But, considering that her supposed love-match of a marriage lasted three days and culminated with her husband's fatal accident, for which she blames herself, a lesser woman would have been glad to leave the place at the first opportunity and never look back. Combined with a ton of baggage (childhood abandonment issues, anyone?), it's no wonder she's barely holding up under the strain.
She was right to worry about her future. Her first meeting with the new earl proves that he's the embodiment of her worst nightmare: a man cut from the same cloth as her late husband, who is bound to do more damage than good to the estate, to the sisters, and to her personally. If she did not keep the distance between them, or relinquished control of their relationship too soon, by the end of the story, she would have wound up exactly where she thought she would: in a cottage with a parting gift for an affair and no reputation to speak of. Instead, she got a countess' coronet and a loving and faithful husband. Not too shabby, as far as alternatives went.
My only quibble with her character was her meddling in Helen's engagement to Winterborne. While it fit with her personality - she can't help but think she knows what's best for everyone around her, especially for her gentle sister-in-law, whom she considers her charge - by that point, the plot would have been better served by shifting the focus off the secondary couple back to the relationship between the protagonists.
In a nutshell, it wasn't such an inferior book as some negative reviews might lead you to believe. It might not be the new The Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers, Book 3), but it's a worthwhile read. I particularly enjoyed the letter exchange between the hero and the heroine. Those were lovely.
I thought the hero was more of an idle gentleman in pursuit of pleasure than a rake, and needed little more than a meaningful goal to "reform," becoming a responsible landlord and faithful husband (eventually). The secondary cast of characters, en masse, were likable, if rather vague, but that is the unfortunate side effect of this being the book introducing the series. In other words, I'm glad Lisa Kleypas is back to writing historicals, and I'm looking forward to Helen and Winterborne's story.