REVIEW: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
COLD-HEARTED RAKE by Lisa Kleypas is the kind of historical romance I love, full of humor and stuffy aristocrats who lose themselves in love. All it took was fan favor and listening to audible samples to get me to jump into the series full force. This book made me happy that I took the plunge.
Why was this book in Dorine’s TBR? It’s not one that had been languishing, but I had adored this cover for what seems like forever. The squeeing of my GoodReads’ friends over DEVIL’S DAUGHTER made me finally take a hard look at the series. AND, an overage of Audible credits that needed used up. I listened to a DEVIL’S DAUGHTER sample, which made me laugh. Then I scrambled to listen to the first three books’ samples and bought them in Audible, followed by the next two in print because I had Barnes and Noble coupons. All in one month, mind you. I went Lisa Kleypas crazy.
My something different? Our theme had me determined to listen to one of the audibles I’d been stockpiling. I was on a mission to find a narrator who drew me in completely and that’s what Mary Jane Wells did. Late Victorian Era is also different because I couldn’t find the more humorous ones that I love. I don’t tolerate pompous jerks in real life, so I certainly don’t want them in my pleasure reading – unless, they are taken down a peg by humor and a woman they can’t help but love. Discovering that Lisa Kleypas writes what I prefer to read is the bomb.
I’ve only read one book by Lisa Kleypas, RAINSHADOW ROAD, which I enjoyed in 2013. She had been on my “historicals to try” list, as well as reading more books from Avon. Two things I had avoided for some time due to an overage of bibliophile exploration. I have been on a tangent of new-to-me authors and styles, so much so that it pained me to add another. But new book frenzy sometimes pushes me over the edge, and that’s what DEVIL’S DAUGHTER did without me even reading it yet.
Devon Ravenel inherits his cousin’s title upon his untimely death and a mountain of lost revenue and properties to go with it. His cousin’s sisters and wife are at Devon’s mercy, which seems like a disaster until he gains a conscience aided by his wastrel brother, West.
Devon is very funny when he teases Kathleen, Lady Trenear. As his cousin’s wife, she didn’t have time to gain much experience, but she doesn’t let that stop her with her list of “proper” expectations for a family in mourning. It’s not necessarily the words Devon says but the very lack of them and his mannerisms that kept me laughing. His sparsely voiced sarcasm is pompous and delightful, easily putting the stately Kathleen into a sputter and fluster. They made me laugh and smile. So charming in an enemies-to-lovers theme.
Devon’s brother West is a rascal. He was an inebriated fool to begin with, but Kathleen’s friendship and his honor to his brother changed him. He’s sarcastically funny as well. West’s caustic humor kept me giggling. Kathleen spent more time with West than Devon in a large part of the novel, so I easily questioned which brother she would end up with. But West was plain spoken about only doing his duty with all the ladies at Eversby Priory, his family’s ancestral home, and thought of them all as his sisters.
Then we meet Rhys Winterborne who shows interest in Helen, Kathleen’s sister-in-law. Rhys is twice as hard-nosed as Devon and can seem very unlikeable. But Helen finds something to like about him and their romance begins. It’s not going to be easy and we’ll learn more about them in MARRYING WINTERBORNE, the second novel.
Next are the twins, Pandora and Cassandra – unmanageable imps with no tact and much mischief. I’m sure their books will be lots of fun because their antics as young ladies cracked me up.
I’m sure I’d love reading these books, but I think the audible adds something that the print would lack. Kathleen’s sputtering over Devon’s constant verbal play is very fun. I could feel her arched back and propriety in how she voiced her concerns to him. They really were charming, even when Devon was being a hard-ass and Kathleen was uppity in return. Although I’ve bought the last two books in the series in print, I have a feeling I’ll have to listen to them as well. I think I’d miss the voices too much.
Mary Jane Wells is a gifted narrator. Her acting ability shines through and kept me entertained. I’ve tried to listen to many audibles that don’t hold my interest, even though I know I would like reading the book. That’s because the narration is like someone reading the book to me without inflection. MJW’s animated narration makes the setting and the characters come alive in such a way that I couldn’t stop listening. I especially enjoyed the country brogues she gave some of the servants and farmers. It reminded me of my great-grandmother who came to the U.S. from Cornwall in the early 1900s.
For those who love a sexy romance, Devon and Kathleen are very affectionate, leaving nothing behind closed doors, and sometimes, wide open in the parlor. Headphones or earbuds in public are advised when listening. Devon’s voice-over is the most swoon worthy articulation. Oh my.
For some romance readers, focusing the story completely on the main couple is preferred. COLD-HEARTED RAKE is the beginning of The Ravenels series, and in order to introduce that properly, it’s about more than one couple. Personally, I prefer stories that are varied and not hyper-focused on one couple, so this book worked for me in every way. I didn’t get bored for one minute. That is the sign of a true artist – first with Lisa Kleypas’ exemplary talent in creating the story, and secondly, Mary Jane Wells’ superb voice reenactment. I highly recommend this story. It made me go on a buying spree for the rest of the series. If you’ve already read it? Get the audible version. You’ll fall in love all over again.
Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy by The Zest Quest. Audible book purchased for Kindle through Amazon. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas, narrated by Mary Jane Wells produced by HarperAudio
Category: Victorian Historical Romance
Publisher: HarperAudio (October 27, 2015)
Rated 5 out of 5, Recommended Audio
What are some of your favorite audiobooks?
April 21, 2019 at 10:26 am
I really love this series. Devil in Spring (the 3rd book) and Devil’s Daughter (the fifth) are the best in the series, I think, but they are all really wonderful. Characters from her earlier Wallflowers series appear in the series, so if you enjoy these, you might want to go back and read those as well. (They were written 15 years ago, so just bear that in mind if you do read them.)
April 22, 2019 at 11:58 pm
Thanks for the tips, Laurel. I had heard about the Wallflowers series – Devil in Winter has been on my wishlist for a couple years. I’m sure I’ll go backwards to at least that one in the future. I can’t wait to read more. 🙂