Cold-Hearted Rake #1
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?
Cold-Hearted Rake starts out strong, sparks (of the antagonistic variety) flying the moment Kathleen and Devon meet as Devon's intense dislike of both his cousin and an honest day's work spills over onto his cousin's widow. Their tempestuous relationship brings a smile to our faces from the get-go, allowng us to settle in immediately as we brace ourselves for what is sure to be one hell of a ride as these two prepare to do battle over whose temper runs hotter.
After a flurry of entertaining enmity in the opening chapters however, the pace of this romance slows to a crawl, Kathleen's obligatory mourning period for her late husband as well as Devon's responsibilities in running his newly inherited estate keeping them apart for months here and there. As a result, the initial fire we felt between them has time to cool, all the details about the various repairs the manor needs as well as the day to day household activities (which are at least entertaining thanks to Kathleen's hilarious sister in laws) keeping us more removed from the romance than we might like. Once Devon returns to the estate, their relationship becomes the focus once again, but his arrival also brings the hero of the next book into the mix, and thus our remaining time becomes split between Kathleen and Devon and the buildup between book two's hero and heroine.
The introduction of an additional budding romance wouldn't have been a problem in the least save for the fact that Lady Helen and Winterbourne far outshine Kathleen and Devon, a beauty and the beast-type pairing between quiet, reserved Helen and dark, injured and brooding Winterbourne capturing our attention more than the continuously hot and cold relationship between our current lead couple. The back and forth between Devon and Kathleen comes to an expected head toward the end–tempers flaring and emotions serving as collateral damage–but their hurt feelings are soothed with shocking speed before their story is wrapped up with a happy bow. We're then given an epilogue that shifts the focus once again to Helen and Winterbourne, leaving us looking forward to their story with far more excitement than we'd been able to generate for Devon and Kathleen during the entirety of their relationship.
That being said however, there's still plenty to enjoy about this historical romance, a cast of secondary characters including Devon's brother and Helen's hilarious younger twin sisters making up for a bit of the spark missing from the primary relationship. Helen and Winterbourne are of course highlights as well, and their book cannot release soon enough.
This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.