Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
Cold-Hearted Rake (Ravenels #1) by Lisa Kleypas is the first book in what I hope will be a long series, featuring a family of women who are strong, devoted and full of cheek and sass. Lisa Kleypas is my go to for all things historical romance, and Cold-Hearted Rake is another perfect example of why Kleypas should be considered one of the best authors to ever write historical romance. This is a Victorian (1874) set in England, mainly on the outskirts of London in the country, featuring 4 women- 3 sisters, and one woman who becomes their sister by default because she married their older brother, an earl, who is now dead. Their sheltered lives are about to come to an end when the Ravenel brothers enter the picture, especially Devon who falls for his dead cousin’s widow, the stoic, proper, snappish (only to him) and kind woman who is very protective to her sister-in-laws. There are many themes here from the importance of family, money, one’s reputation and a big sense of feminism when it comes to Kathleen, including Helen, and the younger, untamed twins- Cassandra and Pandora.
Cold-Hearted Rake starts with Devon and his brother West at an estate in the country. Devon is the new earl, Lord Treanear because his cousin Theo fell from a horse, and died. Devon now must take all the responsibilities Theo had, including his estate that’s falling apart, the property, and the tenants. Devon doesn’t want any of it. He wants to go back to London, including West who just wants to drink, play cards, seduce women, etc… Kathleen’s first impression and introduction of Devon is not complimentary at all. She overhears Devon say not so many nice things about his situation, including Kathleen and Theo’s sisters. They’re not off to a good start. But then Devon and West get to the know Kathleen and the sisters better, and his original opinion about that does a 180. Perhaps he will accept the earldom graciously and bring everything to rights, even if it means humoring Kathleen who has a sharp tongue regarding him and his actions.
Kathleen is a widow after only being married for 3 days. Her 3 day marriage to Theo was less than ideal, so much so she is still a virgin. Yup, the good old virgin widow scenario. Kathleen came from a very cold and lonely childhood. Her parents only cared about horses. Theo swept her off her feet after a few months courtship. But she is very dedicated to Theo’s sisters who have been sheltered for most of their lives and lacking their parents’ love like Kathleen. They think it’s great Devon and West is here. Kathleen not so. But then after some months of getting to know Devon and West, she begins to change her mind, especially where Devon is concerned.
Devon may seem to be a rake, but he’s really the opposite. His brother West is more the rakish type, who does change from the drinking, carousing gentlemen of means because of his cousins and Kathleen who he comes to respect and admire. At one point Lisa writes a possible love triangle for Kathleen and the two brothers, but it’s quickly squashed. We know right from the start who Kathleen will choose. Devon is very attracted to Kathleen, and things progress to the bedroom for these two after months of separation, witty and bantering letters between the two, and Devon actually pining for Kathleen. He’s the first to fall for her, even though Kathleen is smitten with Devon. But then a train derailment happens, and Devon is hurt, including his friend Rhys Winterbourne, the common born, now gazzionaire who owns and operates the biggest store in all of England (perhaps the continent). Devon’s life and death experience cements his feelings for Kathleen, and also introduces Rhys to Helen who takes care of him while he recovers from fever and a broken leg.
Lisa can write one heck of a romance, featuring heroes who will do whatever they can to claim the heroine as their own. This is all done in a respectful and endearing manner, but still with lusty foreplay and hot sex that’s all about the heroine’s pleasure. The love scenes between Devon and Kathleen are steamy, especially one scene in a carriage. Devon’s mouth is put to good use *G*. These two end up complimenting each other.
The romance factor between Devon and Kathleen is nice, but I really enjoyed the family dynamic between Devon and West, and their new found relationships with Helen and the seemingly immature, but adorable twin girls who bring each page to life they’re on. I loved the domestic scenes, as well as the ones with Devon who tries to save the estate Theo practically destroyed.
Cold-Hearted Rake was a lovely novel to read, and hit the right spot for all my historical romance needs. This is the type of book any historical romance fan would enjoy. A start to a great new series from the queen of historical romance. Hurrah!