Reviewed by Mandi
“I disapprove of you,” she replied gravely, walking out to the grand staircase with him. “That’s not the same as dislike.”
“Lady Treanor, I disapprove of me.” He grinned at her. “So we have something in common.”
Hallelujah for a new Lisa Kleypas historical! It’s been too long. I liked Cold-Hearted Rake. I didn’t love it, but I liked it.
In this book we meet two families. Kathleen aka Lady Treanor, was married for three days to her husband Theo, before his temper gets ahold of him, and he gets on a temperamental horse and gets thrown, breaking his neck. Kathleen is now a widow, in a crumbling estate with three younger sisters who are not out in society. She wasn’t necessarily in love with Theo, but she still mourns him as any proper lady would do. Her mourning period is about to be challenged however when her cousin by marriage comes into town.
Devon Ravenel is the rake the title mentions. Devon has inherited this earldom, called Eversby Priory, on the passing of his cousin. Devon never much liked Theo, and he definitely doesn’t want this huge estate, with the house falling down and 200 tenants now under his responsibility. Devon drags his brother, West, along with him to look over the house and the grounds. West is usually drunk during the day, so he isn’t much help, but they are close and Devon wants him to help make decisions. Devon’s first reaction is to sell the whole place and get back to London and scandalous ladies. But then he meets Kathleen. This very petite, stubborn woman kind of takes him by storm. Devon thought he knew exactly what he was going to do with Eversby Priory but now he sees Kathleen, and her very quiet, serious sister Helen, and the crazy, wild nineteen year old twins, and isn’t sure he wants to sell the house and kick everyone out. That doesn’t mean he is going to be kind or not stubborn himself – but he decides to take on Eversby Priory and all its quirks.
The Ravenels – Devon, his brother West and his late cousin Theo, have the famous, “Ravenel Temper.” It killed the impulsive Theo, but Devon and West know how to keep it under control a little better.
Unfortunately, Ravenels had always been too hot-blooded and impulsive. They yielded to every temptation, indulged in every sin, and scorned every virtue, with the result that they tended to die faster than they could reproduce.
Devon doesn’t necessarily go off a the drop of a dime, but he has a very sharp and quick tongue. While he agrees to let Kathleen and her sisters live at Eversby Priory, they don’t become besties right away. Their banter to start the book is biting.
His attention returned to the woman in front of him. “No, I’m not soft-hearted,” he said in answer to her question. “In my opinion, a woman’s tears are manipulative and even worse, unattractive.”
“You,” she said with a certainty, “are the vilest man I have ever met.”
Devon thinks mourning periods are ridiculous. With the passing of Kathleen’s mother a few years ago, Kathleen and her sisters have been in mourning for quite some time. Not only have they been in black, they have been closed off to society because of it. This greatly impacts all of them and is brought up a lot in the book. While the twins have a crazy imagination and keep each other entertained, Helen is very withdrawn and shy. Why do I bring this all up? A lot of page time in this book is devoted to Helen (whose book in next) and West (Devon’s brother – not the hero of the next book but gets a ton of page time in this one). It was almost like Devon and West are the two main characters of this book. West starts out the lazy drunk, but after a kick in the pants, he takes a great interest in the estate. He slows his drinking and becomes very good, platonic friends with Kathleen. He made me smile a lot in this book.
“You look rather glumpish,” West commented. “I know just the thing to cheer you. Tonight the fellows and I are going to the music hall to see a trio of female contortionists who are advertised as the ‘boneless wonders.’ They perform in tights and little scraps of gold cloth –”
“Thank you, but I can’t.”
“Boneless wonders,” West repeated, as if Devon must not have heard him correctly.
I enjoyed West, but I also think he takes away page time from Devon and Kathleen’s romance.
This is a romance that is very slow to burn. They hate each other at first, and although attraction develops, Kathleen is so set on her rigid mourning rules, that it takes a lot of convincing and flirting on Devon’s part to break down her walls. The romance is sexy, but I can’t help feeling that we didn’t get enough of it in this book. Even the declaration of love at the end had me a little irked. I felt like Kathleen went from not so sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Devon to immediately saying yes to his proposal all because he said “I love you.” It felt like a quick turn-around.
By the end, I became a little tired of Kathleen. Or maybe it was just the push/pull between Kathleen and Devon. She is super stubborn – and I liked that about her because it takes a lot to deal with Devon and his arrogance. But by the end, I just wanted her to relax a little. She stressed me out.
Helen’s book is next and her hero, a friend of Devon’s who comes to visit in this book – boy – it’s going to be very interesting to see how he gets redeemed after his behavior at the end of this book. I really enjoy Helen – I think it will be a fun read.