Review: Cold-Hearted Rake

Cold hearted rakeAaaargh! I have had Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas on pre-order pretty much since I moved to Canberra. I am pumped for this book, and fully expected that tonight I would be publishing my review of it.

My local Dymocks has a paltry romance selection in comparison to the walls of romance in the Melbourne store (do they think politicians don’t read romance?), so I had to order it in, knowing that it wouldn’t be on the shelf. It was late (it was due out May 31), but I was cool with that. I managed to get out of work a fraction early, skidded in to Dymocks as the doors were closing and gave them my name. The pre-ordered books are in a cupboard behind the counter. I couldn’t help but peer in as she was hunting for mine, and I knew there was something wrong the minute she straightened up.

It was too big.

Romance novels, at least the ones I buy, are all exactly the same size. This was taller, wider. She put it on the counter and I went to tell her she’d made a mistake, when the words died on my lips.

Marrying Winterborne.

Marrying WinterborneThe title was right, the author was right, but the cover? It was insipid, bland, not the sweeping shock of purple I’d been lusting over. It was the UK version.

Don’t get me wrong, I love almost everything about the UK. My brother and sister-in-law are but the first in a very long line of awesome things about the mother country, but the book covers! Dull, dull, dull.

This is one of the trials of moving interstate. Melbourne Dymocks knows me. They know romance. It didn’t even occur to me that the UK version would be ordered in. .

I stammered for a bit, mentioned that it wasn’t what I was expecting, that it wouldn’t match the rest of my collection. I apologised for being slightly OCD about it…but I still bought it. And now I’m faced with a decision. Return it, face a two-week wait for the right version and risk looking like a crazy person? Or suck it up, read it and spend the next ten years looking at it on the shelf, having it stick out and annoy me just that little bit every day?

I am currently undecided. In the meantime, I promised a review, so here one is. If you haven’t read Cold-Hearted Rake yet, it is the first in the series and it is fabulous. This is from my old, discontinued blog:

 

Devon Ravenel, one of London’s most notorious and selfish rakes, has just inherited an earldom that he doesn’t want. Kathleen has just lost her husband, and now potentially her home when the new Lord Trenear arrives and announces he’s going to break up the estate and sell it off in pieces for profit.

What neither of them expect is the deep attraction that accompanies their fiery clash of wills, nor the changes each will wreak on the other.

Cold-Hearted Rake marks the return of Lisa Kleypas to the historical genre, where she has been sorely missed.

What I love about the characters in this book is how flawed they are. Devon is a complete asshole at the beginning. Thankfully he manages to transition to the hero role without losing the sarcastic, bad-boy qualities that make him interesting. Over the course of the novel Kathleen manages to soften from an iron lady into a flesh and blood woman.

However it is the supporting cast that really steal the show in this book. Devon’s brother, West is totally crush-worthy, and anyone who’s a fan of Downton Abbey is bound to draw parallels between West and Tom Branson. 

And the twins (Devon’s cousins, and nows wards) are vibrant and untamed. I’m very much looking forward to their stories.

Kleypas has always been known for the incredibly vivid descriptions of regency and early-Victorian life. Her work is impeccably researched and she often explores facets of society and regency life outside the usual realm of romance, such as the London theatre scene, or Bow Street. 

Cold-Hearted Rake, is set in 1875, close the to middle of Victoria’s reign. It was also smack bang in the middle of the industrial revolution, when the world of the aristocracy was changing immensely, putting new pressures on land owners. Kleypas has used these challenges to drive the motivation of her hero. The inclusion of developing technologies, such as plumbing, railways and agricultural machines adds an interesting element to the novel.

I hadn’t realised how over regency romances I was, until I read this book. Hopefully Cold-Hearted Rake will inspire more authors to write stories set in this time period (once they’ve all satisfied their obsessions with the Scottish romances that are everywhere at the moment).

All-in-all this is an excellent romance, fast-paced and vibrant. Her next Marrying Winterborne, is due sometime 2016.

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