Monday, February 8, 2016

#9 [2016/CBR8] "Cold-Hearted Rake" by Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake (2015) is Lisa Kleypas's latest historical romance. I was already warned that it was disappointing for a Kleypas novel, so I went in with lower expectations. And it's a good thing that I did, as I wasn't drawn in by the characters. Although some of the side characters were entertaining, this one is pretty forgettable.

Kathleen was married to an Earl for three days--an Earl from a family known for their temper, risk-taking, and short lives. Devon Ravenel, a supposed but not very convincing scoundrel, is one of the few people left in his family. Thus, he becomes the reluctant heir to the title and the estate. When Devon and his brother West arrive, they find Kathleen and the Earl's three younger sisters, as well as an estate in disrepair and near bankruptcy.

Kathleen and Devon get off to a bad start when she overhears him planning to sell off the estate in pieces with no concern for the servants and tenants who will immediately lose their livelihood. Of course, she doesn't realize how bad off the estate is, and Devon develops a conscience and pride in his role as the book develops. Unfortunately, the dynamic between Devon and Kathleen stays the same. She's always mad at him, and they're always bickering. The parts of her character that would make her more likable are not fully developed, so what you end up remembering are the prudish and shrewish parts of her personality that get tiring. "That would be improper," is her response to pretty much everything.

SPOILERS - I knew I was in for disappointment when Kathleen and Devon first connect. Kathleen has apparently not cried since she was a young girl and her parents basically abandon her for their love of horses. But soon after meeting Devon, she falls apart in his arms. I would be okay with this if it had happened later, after she got to know and began to trust Devon (which never really seemed to happen). But when this happened right away, it felt unbelievable. Also, why are the daughters going on a shopping spree when the estate is near bankrupt and they are struggling for money?

The ending was also pretty underwhelming. Devon has less than zero interest in marriage and kids because of his own less than stellar upbringing. Kathleen gets pregnant the very first time they really have sex, but she lies to him and tells him she's not. Devon realizes that he's disappointed and they end up happily ever after. Neither character was very intriguing or fully developed. I hope/think Kleypas's next one will be better.

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