Cold-Hearted Rake, by Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas's latest historical romance, Cold-Hearted Rake, checks quite a few of my preferred boxes: there's a strong focus on money, a period-appropriate (well, more or less) wariness about sex, and a celebration of family support systems. Unfortunately, the actual romance falls a little flat, but even sub-par Kleypas novels are well worth reading.

After years of a footloose and fancy-free existence, Devon Ravenel is not pleased to inherit his cousin's estate. Along with his new title, he is suddenly burdened with the care of his cousin's three young sisters and the family's ancient (and bankrupt) lands. Devon would like nothing more than to cut his losses... but he can't shake his attraction to his cousin's beautiful widow Kathleen, who keeps insisting that it's Devon's responsibility to turn the family's fortunes around.

Cold-Hearted Rake is sadly overstuffed. Kleypas is so busy introducing her characters, squeezing in nearly all of her favorite hobbyhorses (historical medicine, early plumbing, the rise of wealthy industrialists), and laying extensive groundwork for her next book, that the relationship between Kathleen and Devon is alternately ignored and weirdly accelerated. The end result is still carefully researched and reasonably entertaining, but feels more like a series installment than a fully-formed story.
Posted by: Julianka


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