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Kathleen is the most ridiculous woman I’ve ever suffered through. After the rejection of her parents, she’s raised by the morally droning Lady Berwick. She has her season and marries an earl. He gets stinking drunk on the wedding night, and she rejects him. Three days later he’s dead- thrown from a horse. When the new earl rolls into the country he finds Kathleen and 3 maiden sisters of the former earl. Thus begins the most ridiculous, protracted, absurd dance. Kathleen constantly tediously moralizes about mourning etiquette rules, veils, and playing cards - despite the fact that they’re in the country, with not one member of society to see anything. She’s a champion of the estate and tenant farmers, haranguing Devon about his duty, despite having been the countess for about 14 minutes. We’re supposed to believe that in 3 months she’s won over every tenant farmer? Bollocks. For some reason, Devon wants her. And we’re supposed to believe that a woman who freaks out about veils and propriety, will risk pregnancy, and begin an affair with the new earl? But her most offensive priggishness, is her arrogance that Mr Winterbourne can’t make her sister-in-law, Helen, a good husband. Because he’s not peerage. She ignores the reality that a girl with no dowry will marry an impoverished twit- if she’s lucky. She gives lip service to protecting Helen, while running roughshod over her. And the queen of propriety goes unaccompanied to the man’s house to tell him so! I hated her. I tried to see her as young and naive, merely following the rules with which she was raised, but she never has any insight into the crap she’s spewing. She expects the worst out of Devon when he surprises her again and again. Her character doesn’t evolve for the better. Devon does all the changing, and gives her credit. And it’s long. Sooooo long. My lord, I was skimming by the time I hit 60%. The only thing worse than this is the follow up book where Helen goes to retrieve Mr Winterbourne so that we can begin another 300 pages of stupidity. I wouldn’t write such a long review except that I’m so disappointed. Her writing can be excellent. Her characters should be magnificent. But there’s such a tedious disconnect between their actions and reality. And in every book Kleypas writes, the men are normal and firmly grounded in reality, while the women are living in absurd, fantasies of some sort. Where is her editor ? I’d love to know how the other characters turn out, but I can’t take the anger that her heroines instill in me.
It took me quite a while to finish this book...because it was so boring. It was well written, Ms. Kleypas has always been a wonderful writer, but this was the most boring romance I've read in years. The plot was a tried and used up old-school kind of plot, a plot that I've read before over and over again. The dialogue had very little wit or energy to it, no matter who the speaker was. Which brings up the other issue, which is the same as so many other reviewers have remarked upon, there were a lot of people in this book. And at some points, it was hard to tell which guy was the hero. Was it West? Was it Devon? Why was West in the book for the majority of the time, if he's not the hero? I never understood why he wasn't the hero since he seemed to spend so much more time with the women. The heroine was pretty nondescript, she was another well-used old-school heroine with daddy issues and was frigid. Her dead husband and some horse are talked about constantly at the beginning of the book, making you think they are major plot points, but they kind of whither away into nothingness. The other females in the book -- one (Helen) we got to see quite a bit, and had a lot of set up for the next book, but she was so annoyingly quiet and shy I had no interest in her. And there were these twins that I thought were about 10 yo or so, but apparently are more like 19.
The book was so long, a good half of it could have been completely done away with. It was monotonous drivel from one chapter to the next.
So: Boring plot? Check. Boring dialogue? Check. Boring H/h? Check. Lots of secondary characters who are also boring? Check.
If you prefer faster pacing and witty dialogue, this book is not for you. If you're more old-school and wish for writers to return to the styles of the past (the 80s), then this book is for you. At $6.99, I was very disappointed. And no way am I going to buy the next book. I could care less what orchid-laden path those two have to take on their road to love. You'll never convince me they would make a good couple to begin with.
I do like Kleypas's books for the most part which is why I purchased it despite some troubling reviews. This was only okay at best. It runs rather long and gets a bit tedious. The reformation of the hero's brother is almost instantaneous which is a little difficult to buy into. This is essentially a retelling of the Leo Hathaway/Catherine Marks story with a little more temper thrown in. It completely lacks the humorous edge of the Leo/Catherine bickering. The problem is not only the similarity, it's that Leo and Catherine's relationship built up over the course of several other books in which they were secondary characters. That was a real benefit for their eventual story. These characters do not have that benefit. Devon is a self centered party boy, not a conscienceless rake, because he can be. He has resources and no responsibilities. When he unexpectedly has responsibility thrust on him he very quickly becomes His Lordship-responsible-land-owner-and-title-holder. He occasionally has a temper tantrum but Klyepas really has to try hard to work it into the story and it never seems in keeping with Devon's character so much as a supposed family trait she can't let go of. Kathleen is a bigger problem. For someone who never cries no matter what she spends a lot of this book tearing up. She was abandoned by selfish parents but was raised from the age of five by very appropriate, aristocratic, rather stiff but nice people. In all those years the only thing resembling upper class rules of behavior that imprinted themselves on her are rules of mourning. She really doesn't know how to behave in company. Every review that complains about her nastiness and temper making her unlikable are correct. There really isn't much to explain the supposed love that develops between these two other than physical attraction. It is a story about how (oral) sex conquers all. The next book about Helen and Winterbourne may be better but it sounds like it might be a retelling of the Kev/Win Hathaway story. It is difficult to write this many stories without rehashing basic story lines but I do hope there is enough difference to make it interesting.
Devon inherits a title and a barely solvent , ill managed estate. Upon inspecting the newly acquired country home he runs into the previous earl's widow who spews verbal insults before even a hello is muttered.
They spar unpleasantly throughout the entire novel so it's difficult to believe there is love in the air. The heroine is emensely unlikable. She was married for only three days after 3 months of courting yet she seems to have taken control of the household despite three full grown sisters having resided there their entire lives. It's strange how she tells them how to act, what they can or cannot wear, where they can go and even whom they can marry. She makes decisions that only the Earl would make and defies him despite residing in his home.
If you can read with an open mind or are just starting to read historical novels this may appeal to you. If you are a seasoned reader I suspect you will just barely tolerate this one. Additionally, I found it to be too sexually graphic for me.
SPOILER ALERT. Kleypas writes with great style as usual with steamy love scenes. But I found the "Heartlenss Rake" Devon too heartless, cold, calculating and dismissive of the heroine Kathleen until the very end when he suddenly realizes he does love her. There is no real indication that he has actually changed even at that point as he "commands" his "true love" to go upstairs and then begins to remove his clothes while dictating to her what she can and cannot do. The secondary character "Winterbourne" is based on the British TV series about the department magnate "Selfridge." He is also painted as a crude, ruthless, uncaring, violent and greedy person. He covets Devon's cousin Helen and I found him to be an absolutely repulsive creature. I was very disappointed by the book's ending. Kleypas first had Winterbourne corner the heroine Kathleen, offering her "rough" sex. Then in the final scene Kleypas places him in a room with sweet, gentle, and completely innocent Helen who has been previously accosted by him, and has Helen kissing him and asking him to try and be gentle with her. Ugh! Some of Kleypas' earlier heroes were rough characters with violent histories, but they were drawn nicely by the author with redeeming characteristics that became evident early in the books. Even when these men resisted the love offered by the heroines, it was often because they did not feel good enough to be loved or feared hurting them. Devon is horrified when he suddenly realizes he may have accidentally impregnated Kathleen. That's was a complete turn off. Give me more characters like Cam Rohan or even the reprobates Derek Craven or Leo Hathaway. I gave this book 2 stars - one star for good writing style and one star for the great description of the Arabian horse. The horse was in fact infinitely more lovable than the hero!
I am beyond disappointed. Along with Julia Quinn and Julie Anne Long, Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite historical romance authors and has been for many years. I'm certain that I would give every one of her historicals four or five stars. I was so eager for this book that I forgot that I pre-ordered it and bought at Barnes & Noble so I now have two copies of a book that I'm not sure that I will finish. It's probably not kosher to write a review of a book that I haven't finished but the first few chapters are so unpleasant that I had to comment. Many of the other reviews are critical of Kathleen but my problem is with Devon and his brother. Neither has shown a single redeeming quality. Devon has made it clear that he is going to strip his cousin's widow and his three young, unmarried female cousins of anything of their family's estate that he had just inherited, forcing them to go to work. He even obliquely indicated that he was going to sell what he knows is the widow's most precious possession, he Arabian horse. He doesn't need the money. He just wants it to use to have fun. When Devon made a crude sexual comment about Kathleen in front of the her late husband's attorney and his land agent and his brother, West, laughed, Kleypas lost me. I tried to remember if any of her other heroes started out with such a lack of charm to offset that kind of crudity but I can't remember that ever occurring. Of course, I realize that there has to be conflict between the two lead characters but conflict and cruelty are very different things. If Kleypas' past main characters were so abusive to one another, I've grown past reading books where men treat women like dirt and I'm glad that I have.
NO SPOILERS (yet... I’ll give a warning). Kathleen, the main character, is, in my opinion, not likeable. She comes across as cold and prim and everything moral with all the correct doses of morality. However (SPOILER!!!) turns out she never consummated her marriage with the earl. So technically in those days an argument could be made that she wasn’t legally his wife - which she somewhat addresses in the book. But like whatever it’s the 21st century so who cares. However at the tender age of what (?) somwhere between 22 and 24 she lords over the sisters who are 21 and 19. Like seriously?! She was married to their brother 3 days (yes, DAYS) yet rules their home like she’s the Queen Bee. She tells them what is ok to so say, dress, etc., even though it’s the girls ancestral home!!! Did I mention that during most of this time she’s frolicking around with the new heir?(!!!!) she frowns that Helen receives a music box from Rhys while she’s getting hot & heavy in a family couch with Deven. Like seriously ?! Insert massive eye roll. I actually started series with book 2 which I am so glad. Loved Helen & Rhys. However Kathleen is a big fat loser and hypocrite in my book. Enough to outweigh my love for book2. Likely won’t bother with Pandora’s story in book 3.
Kleypas is, of course, one of the best. I was glad to be introduced to the other players in this series in this book, but I found the mains to be extremely tiresome. *SPOILER ALERT* I understand why Kathleen was stuck with Lady Berwick, but both of them are really insufferable. And Devon does a last-minute turnabout that is unsupportable. I liked neither of them, did not believe their "connection," and yet did enjoy all the other characters (other than Lady Berwick, whose supposedly era-appropriate unpleasantness continues into the next story). Again, this is just my taste regarding this story, as Kleypas is a consummate storyteller. These mains just hit sore marks for me. Update: And Lady Berwick's ugliness continues into book 3...I'm pulling the plug on this series. Era-appropriate is one thing, but this character is a villain who has been treated with kid gloves in #1 and #2, and I am done.
I love Lisa Kleypas. I even loved the first 1/3 of this book - it was full of promise, and it felt like it was building up to be an exciting enemies-to-lovers romance, which is one of my favourite tropes. Unfortunately, however, as the story progressed and we got to know more about the lead characters, I found myself more and more annoyed at the heroine instead of growing to love her (which is what I had assumed would happen). She was hypocritical, self-righteous, and just overall unpleasant. This was especially true towards the last 10% of the book, where she meddled with Helen and Winterborne’s relationship and treated Helen so patronisingly it was actually ridiculous. The hero was not as annoying, but he was also nowhere near the kind of hero I would expect from the same mind that gave us Sebastian St Vincent. I just don’t see how their relationship progressed or why they fell in love with each other. The big declaration at the end felt rushed, and they didn’t even appear in the epilogue. Overall, I feel that this book was more of a long prologue for the second book in the series rather than its own love story.
I have to say that I am really disappointed with this book. It was a pre-order and I was looking forward to it. I don't usually write reviews, but this book left me positively seething at the heroine and it felt so much like a missed opportunity at a great book. The hero is ok, the classical alpha hero who redeems himself after being presented as a selfish rake. I have to say that while I feel that the intention was for him to grow up through the book, it actually more appears as a student change of heart in the beginning and that was it. The heroine....I haven't disliked a fictional character that much for a really long time...I was completely in agreement with the hero when he was saying that she was having adolescent tantrums....it felt to me that she was going from one to another, without thinking about anyone except herself, she was so judgmental all the time, I began skipping the parts of the book were she was in....(yes I know the book was supposed to be about her...but I was really feeling like I was watching a teen drama...) I was actually way more interested in the secondary romance and began skipping all the parts with the H/h to read about the secondary plot. Surprisingly, the hero's brother is more fleshed out and developed than both heroes which leaves a strange impression as you never really connect with either the H or the h. I'll probably read the next one as I finished this one only because of Helen's story, but I'll be more cautious in the future with pre-ordering before reading the reviews...