by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #1
Published on October 27, 2015 by Avon
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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?
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Cold-Hearted Rake kicks off the Ravenels series, historical romances featuring hot-tempered men and the women who tell them to deal with it. I picked it up after the 5th book arrived in the mail and didn’t want to read the books out of order.
Up first of the Ravenels is Devon, a rake who finds he’s suddenly inherited an earldom as well as his cousin’s widow and his three sisters. The book focuses on Devon learning to be a noble while fighting the headstrong Kathleen who wants what’s best for her step-sisters and the household. Which, okay, not the worst plot for a romance. I do love a good enemies-to-lovers story.
On that note, I found Devon super controlling at times and while Kathleen stood up to him for the most part, there were times she caved that I wasn’t a fan of. He became far too domineering and it didn’t make him someone I wanted to root for at first. Yet I did like that Devon was SUPER unlikable at the beginning, both him and his brother West, because the narrative showed their growth as characters and as people. Overall, though, I think West is my favorite of the brothers despite his vices. He seemed to have the most growth of all the characters but it’ll be a few books before he gets his own book.
Kathleen was a decent heroine but I felt she contradicted herself a lot. There’s a moment where she shares that she NEVER cries, then suddenly starts sobbing minutes later with Devon there which seemed a bit convenient. In fact, several of her earlier interactions with Devon didn’t sit quite right. I liked her sharp tongue and the banter it stirred, even though the constant arguing became too much after a while.
The story, for the most part, was decent up until the last quarter. Rather than focus on Kathleen and Devon, the plot flipped to Helen (one of Kathleen’s step-sisters) and her own romance. For the last 25% of the book, Kleypas set up for the next book which I found frustrating because it seemed like Devon and Kathleen’s relationship hit a standstill to make room. And even and though it tied in a bit, it didn’t feel right.
Kathleen was so controlling of Helen at this point in the book and while I get that she’s doing it out of love, she never really asked Helen about her feelings on anything and just assumed (which made her and Devon a good match since they did that a lot in general). I started liking Kathleen less and less as the book finished up.
The ending was a bit too neat, I think. I would have liked more resistance from Kathleen, even if things were left in a good place but maybe not a full HEA until a later book since so much time went into setting up the sequel.
AT THE SAME TIME I immediately wanted to read the next book and for the first time ever I actually read the included excerpt (okay more like skimmed it but still). I never do that because I want all or nothing with books. So despite my issues with Cold-Hearted Rake, I’d recommend it even if you just want to read the other books since it sets up the second book quite a bit.