Ruthless by Anne Stuart
August 1, 2010
Paperback, 400 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “How do you know what color my nipples are?” she said in a raw voice. “It’s dark in here.”
”You know I’m a very bad man, poppet. I may have peeked when you were asleep. Believe me, I’ve suffered for my sins. I haven’t been able to stop thinking of them in days.”
Elinor Harriman has a lot on her plate. A sick mother, both physically and mentally, battling the spanish flu, a gorgeous younger sister, whom she wants to protect her modesty at all costs and scrounging enough money for her family to stay warm and fed in the outskirts to the slums of Paris. Her mother has forced ruin upon the family over the past ten years, and now desperation has set in. With their father, who was not really part of their lives, recently passed away – although the money has gone to a distant cousin, Marcus Harriman, Elinor hopes a little was set aside for them. Things get worse after her mother flees with what little money they have to Viscount Rohan’s house. Rohan, known as The Lord of Hell in his circle, is famous for throwing orgies. Lewd acts in different circles of hell are performed at his estate. But lately, Rohan is bored. Almost 40, he is tired and wants something new in life.
When Elinor shows up demanding to see her mother, Rohan’s interest perks. This woman is not like the other beauties that lay at his feet. She is actually quite plain, with a very pronounced nose and best of all, she stands up to him. Something that rarely, if ever happens. Rohan is intrigued, and suddenly his boredom is a thing of the past. Elinor is terrified he will want to bed her beautiful sister, but Rohan doesn’t want the beauty. He wants the sister with some spunk, although he would never admit it to anyone.
With a mother days away from death, and a sister and elderly nanny to support, Elinor has truly run out of options. Dare she trust Rohan, and his dishonorable reputation?
I love the set-up in Ruthless – the plain, virginal, desolate heroine, and the rakish, cold hearted, dishonorable hero. Anne Stuart, how in earth will you bring these two together and make it believable? Oh, but you do. There is such a fine line between keeping the hero and heroine true to themselves, yet bringing them together romantically and believably. Rohan has to stay in the morally gray area for most of the book for his character to work, yet, there has to be a believable attraction from Elinor to make the romance stand out.
Elinor is a fierce heroine, one who will do anything to keep her sister safe. She has led such a poor life, with a horrible mother who made her do despicable acts. It is actually odd that her sister and herself turned out so proper – although the help from Nanny Maude, gave them a little love that is much deserved. Rohan takes an interest in Elinor, something she has never had. He is so flip and arrogant, he never shows her necessarily a physical interest, or at least doesn’t lead that on. But Elinor is so starved for affection of any kind, she can’t help but be somewhat drawn to this man. And out of character for him, he sees himself financially helping this family. She surprises Rohan – she is so out of character from the normal woman who tries to seduce him, it shocks him. At the same time, Rohan revels in shocking her:
His eyes narrowed, and he yawned. “I assume you aren’t interested in…er…frolicking with me?”
”Trifling? We’ve already been flirting…”
”We have not!” she said, aghast.
”Oh yes, child, we most certainly have, even if you don’t recognize it. Why don’t we simply dispense with all the pleasantries and descend into hot, nasty fornication?"
For perhaps the first time in her life Elinor was at a loss for words. And in the end only the most foolish ones escaped her mouth. “In a carriage?”
He laughed. “Oh, most definitely in a carriage.”
Their romance is very slow to bloom, and when it does it is in a very dynamic notion, but I think it unravels in the perfect way.
There is also a murder attempt on Rohan and although I like how things progressed with this at the end, I kind of wish it had played a bigger role throughout the book.
I can’t end the review without mentioning Lydia, Elinor’s sister and her heart-wrenching romance in this book. While Elinor and Rohan’s romance provide for more banter, and games, Lydia and the man she pines for provides excruciating tension and I think it added so much to this book.
This series include:
Reckless – 9/1/10
Breathless – 10/1/10