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Ruthless (The House of Rohan) Mass Market Paperback – July 20, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Stuart (Fire and Ice) launches a trilogy with this dark, intense, and sometimes unsettling historical romance. In 1760s Paris, penniless British noblewoman Elinor Harriman is struggling to support her family when her ill mother runs away to an orgy held by Viscount Rohan, a mysterious libertine known as the King of Hell. This sets in motion a chain of events that draws Elinor and Rohan into a fierce contest of wills and desires. Stuart's writing is crisp and quick, and her characters are finely and memorably drawn, but Rohan's often violent and predatory treatment of Elinor goes well beyond what most readers will find acceptable in an ostensible hero, especially given Elinor's traumatic childhood. Notions of the reformatory power of love fall flat against these grim scenes, which uncomfortably detract from an otherwise enjoyable and powerful story.
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"Witty, inventive, dark and sexy---a wild adventure for the mind...and the heart." ---Susan Wiggs --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
RUTHLESS is a somewhat dark historical romance. Francis, Viscount Rohan, is definitely not a nice man. He's diabolical, calculating, and deceitful. He does no good deed without his own interest in mind and I can honestly say I didn't like him throughout most of this story. But he was unlike any hero I've ever read about before (which I give Ms. Stuart high praise for) and I somehow found myself intrigued and fascinated by him. Although Elinor comes off as somewhat of a martyr, always trying to protect her younger sister, I still thought she was great. While not your typical beauty, she was brave and intelligent and I wanted her to finally find some happiness after the difficult life she's had to lead.
I honestly expected it to be somewhat more erotic than it actually was considering the groups pastime, but nothing was ever overly graphic like I was anticipating. There was a smaller love story between Francis's best friend and Elinor's sister, which was really sweet and a nice backdrop to the main romance. Then there was the ending to this story which I thought was extremely moving! We see a man who never believed in love, and had always gotten whatever and whomever he wanted, lose complete and utter control over the loss of this one woman. It was very emotional and I found myself liking the new man Francis becomes, and you could sense was there under his hardened heart all along.
Overall it was an unusual love story with serious and sometimes disturbing content. Neither Francis nor Elinor have had easy lives and I felt for them both, but especially Elinor who was abused emotionally and sold physically by her cruel mother. Although I definitely don't think this book is for everyone, if you're looking for a unique, sexy, a-typical historical romance, RUTHLESS definitely fits that bill =)
Below is a complete list of "The House of Rohan" series for those who don't already know:
Book 0.5 - THE WICKED HOUSE OF ROHAN (Kathleen Strong & Alistair Rohan)
Book 1 - RUTHLESS (Elinor Harriman & Francis aka Viscount Rohan)
Book 2 - RECKLESS (Charlotte Spenser & Adrian Rohan)
Book 3 - BREATHLESS (Miranda Rohan & Lucien de Malheur)
Book 4 - SHAMELESS (Melisande Carstairs & Benedick Rohan)
I really liked it and would recommend it to romance junkies. She is a good writer and I did not want to put the book down.
Rohan and Elinor make a feisty couple, and she is clearly the only woman he could ever love and respect who could also match wits with him and keep him in line. I enjoyed reading about their antics, although some of the things that Rohan did made me wonder about him; whether there was true goodness underneath the facade (his duel with Pipps was clearly one-sided and wrong, I felt, no matter what he did to Elinor).
I have a couple of other criticisms. I felt the ending was rushed and anticlimactic. After all these two had been through, the author should have expanded their happy-ever-after chapter. Plus, I have never had children, but can a woman really feel morning sickness if she is barely two weeks pregnant? Plus, I do not recall that she actually told him that she thought she was expecting--it was that brief an ending.
Also, like some other readers have commented, I would have enjoyed a longer sub plot focusing on Lydia and Charles. That also was too rushed and I thought they were adorable together. Plus there was no explanation as to why Charles and Rohan were such good friends.
All in all, I enjoyed the book and am glad that I read it. I will read the rest of the series.
I'm not sure I can even list everything j didn't like about it.
It was sorely lacking in character development. With it being over 400 pages, I thought the characters back stories would be developed more. You don't really even know Rohan. It's mentioned why he left England, but that's about all. It dragged on and on. We know Elinor's mother was a whore and dying, but yet it just kept being repeated, she has absolutely nothing to do with the book.
By what I disliked most was the "hero" himself. He was absolutely loathsome. Rude, demeaning, arrogant, and just a plain weirdo. He always referred to Elinor as a child and he treated her as such too.
The whole him falling in love with her at the end was so completely random. It didn't with the story what so ever. He treated her like crap the ENTIRE book, seemed to keep her around because she "amused him", the he all of a sudden wants to marry her? Wasn't realistic and I just don't understand what she saw in him. He's also a pig. Just a lecherous man, really.
I'm frustrated now.