This was a book I bought for myself. I had picked up one of Lisa Kleypas’s audio books at my library for a long car trip, and I liked it so much I decided to try the first book in her Ravenels series.
The story is set during the Victorian era as much is changing in land ownership and its place in the social hierarchy. It definitely portrays how vulnerable women were, and our hero is not a man of his times, at least when it comes to respecting women and their wishes. This is par for the course for historical romance. Hard for a modern reader to root for a hero that treats his wife like cattle.
The plot was a combination of the romance between the hero and heroine, as well as a “scapegrace” coming to terms with the responsibilities of a crumbling earldom in a time where landownership no longer confers wealth.
The hero definitely has his work cut out for him, though I am not completely certain why he chose to accept the responsibility. But he did, and it changes him. The weight of so many people needing him, depending on him, helps make him a different man. One capable at the end of truly loving the heroine.
This is also a story where the hero is smitten with the heroine from almost the very beginning. I am not certain I believe it from a “cold-hearted rake”, but I was more than willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy.
It did have some head-hopping. We moved between different characters in the same page, and those characters included people beyond the hero and heroine. I only note this after how much push-back I received from editors for doing the same thing.
All in, it was a great read. Good enough that I plan to purchase the next book in the series.
It also taught me a few things.
First, having a hero you don’t especially like at the beginning is okay if you can make him likable enough and redeemable. The hero was ready to toss all the sisters and widow of the former earl out as the earl hadn’t provided for them in his will. He doesn’t, and that helps build his character and make him likable.
Second, this is clearly the first book of a series. I paid close attention to how she laid the foundation for the characters who will get their own book in this story.
Third, her steamy scenes are fantastic. I need to go back and study them more. I feel like I have learned a lot in my years of writing, but this is something I am always trying to do better.
I am looking forward to reading the next book.