Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
by Lisa Kleypas
Apparently I read the second book in this series first (Marrying Mr. Winterborne) and so it was interesting to read the story of Devon and Kathleen and find out what was happening after knowing from Helen and Rhys’ side what they thought was happening.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Devon, Lord Trenear, has inherited the title and a crumbling estate after his cousin is thrown from a horse. He goes to the estate and encounters both his cousin’s widow, Kathleen, and her three eccentric sisters.
(and really, this book is wonderful for just the jollity and joie de vivre provided by Kathleen’s twin sisters who unabashedly spy on people and use words like “Odorwhelmingly” to describe London stink.)
And for some reason, Devon, who wanted to break the entitlement so he can wash his hands of the monstrous money-sucking estate, ends up staying. And trying to make improvements. And desperately trying to find a way to save the people on the estate without selling away their farm livelihood.
And Kathleen’s insistence on widowhood, mourning, and proprietry keeps gettting chipped away at.
This is a full on Kleypas historical romance goodness. There’s no pretense at modern feminism here, although there’s quite a lot of women who manage their men in various ways despite their limited choices.
The main conflict ends up being Devon’s desire to set up Helen and Rhys, so that’s resolved a bit quickly and the main emotional pay off I think is a bit misguided, but it’s still pure guilty pleasure.