cover image Cold-Hearted Rake

Cold-Hearted Rake

Lisa Kleypas. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-237181-2

This Victorian romance from Kleypas (the Wallflowers series) is dripping with period flavor and beautifully written depictions of the peculiarities of running a foundering estate, but its hero is less than heroic. Devon Ravenel inherits an earldom, a rotting estate, a houseful of female relations, and a mess of debt when his cousin is thrown from a horse and killed. Devon initially wishes to sell the property and get back to his bachelor ways, but his passion for his cousin’s widow and his dedication to rescuing the estate both sneak up on him. That passion, however, takes an ugly turn, with many of the more physical scenes pushing the boundaries of consent. At times the story feels more like a case of Stockholm syndrome than a blossoming romance, souring the enjoyability of an otherwise well-crafted story. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (Nov.)