Series: The Ravenels, #1
Publisher: Avon, October 2015
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A twist of fate . . .
Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.
A clash of wills . . .
Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:
Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?
The Ravenels aren’t your typical family.
Characterized by a brutal temper and a rakish reputation, Devon Ravenel wants nothing to do with the earldom he inherits after his cousin’s untimely death, and especially not with the three sisters and young widow Theo left behind. He expects to sell it off, lock and barrel, and move on with his life, but the family dynamics pull him in, not to mention Theo’s widow, Kathleen, who’s ready to defend the ancestral seat.
Cold-Hearted Rake is my first Kleypas historical romance, but after this and the contemporary Blue-Eyed Devil, it will certainly not be the last. From the moment she introduced the eccentric family dynamics of the Ravenels, I was hooked: Devon, the older brother with the rakish reputation, and his brother Weston, the rich drunk, were quite a pair on their own. Yet when the estate is thrust into Devon’s hands, they meet the quirky twins, Cassandra and Pandora, serene Helen, and defensive Kathleen.
I use the word “defensive” for Kathleen carefully – she’s a careful woman, one who’s taught herself to hide her emotions, guard her heart, and protect those she loves. It takes some work to earn her trust, but once you do, you’re in for life.
Devon, in turn, is just as defensive, but hides it behind a rakish reputation. I liked how Kleypas painted the reputation into the background (sort of the “we’ve heard about you” style) but focused on his thoughts and motives when it came to unexpectedly inheriting this…mess.
Their romance may have been an initial hot flash, but morphed into a slow burn that kept its hooks in me. The slow shattering of two defensive people’s protections is a fascinating one to read. I loved the touch of alpha male in Devon, just enough to make hearts flutter, but not enough to overpower him. Kathleen’s strong nature, in turn, painted a character that wasn’t a pushover, so it became all the more thrilling when she fell.
I loved that Kleypas didn’t forget the minor characters and side plots. The heartbreaking side plot near the end was a hook to get me to read the next book (and boy did it work), and I was so happy to see the evolution of Weston.
Cold-Hearted Rake had all the elements I love in historical romance: kooky side characters, strong romantic heroes, and a little bit of heartbreak.