Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1) by Lisa Kleypas

Historical Romance, 419 pages, published in 2015

After unexpectedly inheriting an earldom, Devon Ravenel must decide how to deal with all of his new unwanted responsibilities. His estates have massive debts, he has many people under his employment, and he must deal with the late Earl’s widow, Kathleen.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was so hopeful for this book, but I really ended up having a ton of issues with it. The reason that I am giving this book 2 stars instead of 1 is because the beginning of the book was promising. I liked the tension and the setup, but soon after that, everything went downhill for me.

I found Kathleen to be absolutely unbearable. She cares so much about propriety, even when it gets in the way of what she wants. It just seemed like kind of a silly thing to be hung up on, especially when literally everyone around her was telling her that it didn’t matter. I don’t know, she just let things happen, rather than choosing for herself.

The romance between Kathleen and Devon felt a little flat for me. I didn’t feel like they really had a whole lot keeping them together, or a lot attracting them to each other in the first place. The way that they dealt with the conflict at the end of the book didn’t feel right to me.

I wanted to like Kathleen and Devon together, but there was so much time in this book spent on things outside of their relationship. Kathleen forms a friendship with Devon’s brother, West. At one point, they were spending so much time together and opening up to each other so much that I thought I had misread the situation, and West was actually the love interest. There was also so much time put into the romantic relationship that will be explored in the next book. It seemed so strange to me to have so much set up for that book included in this book.

A lot of the sexual encounters in this book felt … less than consensual to me. It felt like Devon always had to persuade Kathleen to say yes. Even though Kathleen does want to say yes in multiple situations, she has her reasons for saying no. It just felt gross for Devon to have to persuade her. Kathleen also does some questionable things. She spies on Devon when he is changing clothes, which was written to seem romantic, but it was just plain creepy and wrong. There was another scene where Devon tells her to stop, and she doesn’t. I just didn’t find any of the sex in this book to be sexy or romantic because it just seemed so questionable.

I definitely won’t be continuing on with this series. I suppose it was fine that there was so much included about Helen and Winterborne, the protagonists of the second book in this series, Marrying Winterborne, because it made me sure that I don’t want to read any more about them. I thought their relationship was sweet and interesting at first, but then it did a 180 and completely shifted. Winterborne did and said some really terrible things in this book, so I don’t think I would ever like him in the future.

This book has made me wary of reading more books by Lisa Kleypas. I know that she is one of the big names in historical romance, but if her all her books feel similar to this one, I don’t think I would enjoy them.

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