Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 2 out of 5
Plot Blurb: Devon inherits an earldom after his hot tempered cousin's untimely death and finds himself saddled with mountains of debt and responsibility he never imagined falling into his hands. Not to mention his cousin's two sisters and his widow, Kathleen, whom he clashes with instantly. They don't want to deal with one another, but in order to settle the affairs of the inheritance, Devon and Kathleen are thrown together and try desperately to fight the attraction between them.
My Reaction: If you haven't read Kleypas yet, for God's sake don't start with this one!
Man oh man... Lisa Kleypas hasn't written a historical romance in ages. She was probably the first historical romance author that I just fell completely in love with. I literally have every single one of her books and I adore each of them, s you can imagine how excited I was to read this little beauty. But since it has been so long since she's dabble in the historical genre, I can understand why she's probably a bit rusty. I feel almost like I'm betraying her by giving this book 2 stars, but I honestly felt like it was just "ok."
Let's start with the positives - Kleypas is a master of providing us with a look into the historical world without losing interest with stuffy descriptions, actions, and dialogue. As always, her writing flows beautifully and the story moves along with realistic feeling, the interactions between the characters coming alive as you digest each scene.
So where did it fall flat for me? The individual growth of the two main characters really didn't go anywhere. I mean, they did - by all accounts on paper they changed dramatically. But we never really got to see it. Kleypas created this character of a wild bachelor that shirks responsibility, but Devon was never really irresponsible. Quite the opposite. And he is thrown into Kathleen's life so quickly, forcing the intimacy between them in the most strange way seemingly moments after meeting. There was no mutual growth of familiarity.
And don't even get me started on Kathleen and her "no crying" thing - only to have her turn around and sob not five minutes after confessing that she "doesn't cry." It felt contrived and terribly unauthentic.
Now the side stories are where this book showed me the Kleypas I know and love. Devon's brother was an amazing example with this one... I was turning the pages trying to get more of his story to see where his character would go since he was so interesting. And then we had the Rhys and Helen story blossom so beautifully - as soon as this little tidbit was thrown in there I was flipping through pages to see where they would go. Original, whimsical, and touching, I just knew that this was the story I wanted to read. The story I expected from my fave romance author. Am I a little bummed I have to wait for book #2 for them? Yes, but at least they get their own feature length book!
So long story short - this book was NOT what I am used to with Kleypas. However, I won't lose hope because I get the feeling she has some great ones lined up for this series. Maybe she was so excited about those that she lost sight of this story. That's okay though... I'm a fan for life here so she'll definitely get a second chance.