Tag Archives: Lisa Kleypas

Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s. You are braver than you know.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

 

 

 

The Ravenels: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

I will try to calm my excitement induced vibrating to write this review. I discovered Lisa Kleypas when I dove into the romance genre in 2012 and read everything of hers I could get my hands on – The Wallflowers, The Hathaways, The Travises, Derek, Gideon, and Zachary. She is the author whose work I have read the most of and I was SO EXCITED to learn she was returning to historicals. How excited? I’m writing this review and the book hasn’t even come out yet. Will it have the trademark smolder? How hot will the [insert funky bass line here] be? Will the hero be sardonic, self-made, and wry? Will he call the heroine “sweetheart” in that way of Kleypas men? Will we get to see any of our favourite characters? Probably. (Answers: some, insufficiently, yes, yes, no)

y648[1]As is the way of historical romance plots, Devon Ravenel has accidentally inherited an earldom. The last earl died in a horseback riding accident and now Devon and his brother, West, have come to look over the moldering pile of the family estate, the plentiful farmland hanging on despite the ongoing decline in the agrarian economy, and the women of the family, including the erstwhile earl’s beautiful widow, Kathleen. They had been married for only three days when he died. As the oldest member of the household, though not by much, she is acting as head of the family and arbiter of good conduct. Things proceed as well they should.

Cold-Hearted Rake lays a lot of the groundwork for the rest of the series, so much so that it was a challenge balancing that against the love story itself. I would have liked more romance in this romance novel. Devon falls hard and fast, Kathleen takes longer, but their interactions felt episodic as opposed to intrinsic to the story. The supporting characters are reasonably well fleshed out and I look forward to books for Devon’s brother West, their friend Rhys Winterbourne, and Tom Severin. Rhys in particular has been set up with a need for redemption, as there is a scene in which he acts sexually threatening towards the heroine, and he is up next. His conduct represented a couple of elements that I found dated, including West giving Kathleen “the gentlest shake” (a common Kleypas occurrence) and Devon behaving in a very high-handed fashion. I know it’s a historical romance, but certain elements were inconsistent with what I think of as the current state of the genre.

Lisa Kleypas is an autobuy author for me and, despite any disappointment I felt about the lack of couple time and, yes, insufficient sex and smolder, I will purchase the next book as I found the excerpt of Marrying Mr. Winterbourne tantalizing (his redemption is already in the works) and West’s should be a lot of fun as he was absolutely charming (if too easily rehabilitated).

I don’t often include quotes in reviews, but I wanted to share a couple of gems.

“No, he keeps the schedule of a cat. Long hours of slumber interrupted by brief periods of self-grooming.”

“You shouldn’t be in here,” Devon told him. He turned to the room in general. “Has anyone been corrupted or defiled?”

“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a tavern where I can pay an under-dressed woman to sit in my lap and look very pleased with me while I drink heavily.”

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations (two classics and one of my personal favourites), can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

Again the Magic  has all of the trademark Kleypas smolder and charm, but a plotting issue which I feel gets in the way of the novel’s success and frustrated me again on my recent re-read; however, I have returned to the secondary plot several times as it has one of my favourite heroes and is, with The Heiress Effect, the historical romance for which I really wished a separate novella, or novel, had existed for the heroine’s sister.

Meeting as children, Lady Aline* Marsden and stable boy John McKenna were friends and then lovers (short of consummation) in their teens. Their secret was discovered and they were separated by her dastardly father. McKenna went to Brighton and, later, New York. Aline stayed home with her sister, Livia, and her brother, Marcus (of It Happened One Autumn).  In addition to the emotional blow of losing McKenna, Aline suffered a terrible accident which permanently disfigured her legs. At 31, she has never married and does not intend to. Livia, also unmarried, is still at home because her fiance died and she miscarried their child. First in a socially and then a self-imposed exile, Livia is just about ready to return to the land of the living.

With this set up, McKenna returns to the Marsden’s ancestral home. In the delicious manner of all Kleypas heroes, he is filthy rich, gorgeous, and sardonic; he also happens to be hell-bent on exacting revenge on Aline. You see, she pretended to reject him as beneath her to make him leave. McKenna’s plan is not a great one, just to “use her and leave her”, but the reader knows that these star-crossed lovers are going to get a second chance. The problem with Again The Magic  is that he’s just so grumpy and she’s so stubborn. Her friend actually, specifically, accurately describes McKenna as “sturm” and Aline as “drang”. While their denouement was absolutely swoon-worthy, this is Kleypas after all, they were an annoying couple; HOWEVER…

Traveling with McKenna to the Marsden house party is a blonde god of an affluent American, Gideon Shaw. Seductive, proudly louche, and complicated, he and Livia run into each other and the spark is instant. The amount of love story and chemistry that Kleypas gives them in their brief appearances slayed me. I adore Gideon. He is a high-functioning alcoholic who is aware of his problem, but unsure of what to do, or if he wants to or is, indeed, able to do anything about it. Kind and wry, Livia changes his perspective, not because she magically heals him, but because he realises how much more he can have, if he becomes healthy. I found his character incredibly charismatic and alluring in the way that an alcoholic can be only be in a romance (or Thin Man) novel. Livia and Gideon’s love story did yeoman’s work of helping me get through the main plot. They were so sweet together, without ever being overly so, that I found myself waiting for them to reappear and engage me in the story.

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

*Aline – Being uncertain of the author’s intended pronunciation of this name is the pebble in the shoe of my reading experience of Again the Magic.

Lisa Kleypas’s Catalogue

Themes: Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone. Also, find an incredibly hot  man who adores you.

HISTORICAL ROMANCES

Standalone Novels/Early Series:
Surrender – don’t, dated
Stranger in My Arms – don’t
Suddenly You – pretty good, reasonably racy
Somewhere I’ll Find You – don’t
Because You’re Mine – don’t
I Will – nope
Where Dreams Beginpersonal favourite, I LOVE THIS BOOK
Again the Magic main plot has sturm and drang, secondary plot is great and has a marvelous hero

Gamblers Series:
Then Came You  – good, a lot of readers really like it
Dreaming of You CLASSIC, one of romance’s ultimate heroes, I have read it many times
Where’s My Hero – novella follow up to Dreaming of You – for completists

Bow Street Runners Series:
Someone to Watch Over Me – a bit dated, one great moment
Lady Sophia’s Lover  – SMOKING hot hero, pretty good overall, dated
Worth Any Price – don’t, unless you want a lot of sex and no emotion, then do

The Wallflowers Series:
Secrets of a Summer Nightpersonal favourite, delicious hero
It Happened One Autumn – good not great, pompous hero, the heroine is a bit of a pill
The Devil in WinterCLASSIC with the ultimate Rake/Wallflower combination
Scandal in the Spring – sweet ending to the series
A Wallflower Christmas – for completists only

The Hathaways Series:
Mine till Midnight
great, has my all time favourite heroine
Seduce Me at Sunrise – too much agita for me
Tempt Me at Twilight personal favourite
Married by Morning a near miss, but still good
Love in the Afternoon excellent, sweet and grows on me with each re-read

The Ravenels:
Cold-Hearted Rake – lays groundwork for the new series, could be stronger
Marrying Winterbourne – middling, hero manhandles the heroine
Devil in Spring – best of the series, but not up to Kleypas’s standard
Hello Stranger – strangely dated; hero born and raised in England has an Irish accent
Devil’s Daughter – best of the series, charming hero

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES

The Travis Series:
Sugar Daddydidn’t really like the hero
Blue-Eyed Devilgood, not great
Smooth Talking StrangerGreat, but can a hero be too perfect?
Brown Eyed Girl – Based on reviews, I didn’t bother.

Crystal Cove Series: Not my cup of tea, did not read.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Continue reading

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

I keep mentioning Dreaming of You in other reviews and it is on my overall recommendations list, so it seemed time to reread it and include it here. A classic of the genre originally published in 1994, Dreaming of You is part of the historical romance canon, if such a thing exists. It’s splendid, slightly dated, and Derek Craven is one of the greatest men in the genre. Complicated, brilliant, and intense, he is the supreme up-from-the-gutter hero. He would and did do almost anything he needed to survive and prosper. His heroine is pretty spectacular as well. The reader meets her when thugs are attacking Derek and she shoots one of them in the face.

Seemingly shy and demure, Sara Fielding writes about the underbelly of Victorian London. Her novel about a prostitute named Matilda was a great success and helps earn her the access she needs for her work on the gambling dens that straddle the worlds of the poor and the elite. Saving Derek’s life gains her permission to visit his luxurious gaming establishment for research as long as she stays out of his way. She doesn’t. She is brave, kind, and quietly relentless in both her literary pursuits and in encouraging Derek to allow himself to share his life with her. In coming together, neither one in any way compromises who they are, rather they are able to come more fully into themselves and fit together.

Dreaming of You has everything: a tortured hero; the reformation of a rake; opposites attracting; a wallflower who becomes a victim of circumstance; self-made characters defying society to enter its upper echelons; and an absolute bitch of a villain. Kleypas is able to balance it, ALL OF IT, because of the sincere love story and her, as always, exceptional smolder. I don’t care if elements are dated, I adore the love story and cannot endorse the novel highly enough.

Dreaming of You has a follow-up novella called Against the Odds which is mostly about Derek and Sara’s daughter, but let’s be honest, one only reads it for a chance to revisit two favourite characters. It does not disappoint.

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

The Bow Street Runners: Someone to Watch Over Me, Lady Sophia’s Lover & Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

This trilogy does not feature the usual fancy people of romance which is a pleasant change. The Bow Street Runners were a precursor to a metropolitan police force in London and all three heroes work for the team. It’s a profitable enterprise and, assuming they conduct themselves ethically, an honourable one. Just try not to think too much about the realities of conditions for working people, in the prisons, or for the poor in Victorian London.

Someone to Watch Over Me – Grant Morgan and Vivien Duvall – Weak

Boy meets girl. Boy knows Girl. Girl has amnesia. Girl lives with Boy for protection. Something about revenge. Some kind of mystery. Marriage.

Someone to Watch Over Me is not one of Kleypas’ better works. I read it over a year ago, I have not revisited it, and I remember it as having one charming moment.

Lady Sophia’s Lover – Ross Cannon and Sophia Sydney –  Pretty good

Sir Ross Cannon is the chief of the Bow Street runners and a magistrate. Looking for a new secretary, he is stunned when a lovely woman, Sophia, appears saying she needs a job. He doesn’t want to hire a woman, what with it being Victorian England and his profession being somewhat sordid, but he agrees to give her a chance and she ends up supervising his household, doing some secretarial work, and, eventually, in his bed.

Sophia does not have a personality that leaps off the page. She is kind and hard-working, but her presence mostly consists of being attracted to Ross and showing otherwise poor judgement. Owing to an indiscretion and subsequent slut-shaming, Sophia is desperate for work, but her presence in Cannon’s office is not coincidental. Several years ago, Cannon convicted Sophia’s brother, John, of a petty crime and he died in prison. Sophia blames her brother’s death on Cannon’s cruelty and is out for revenge. Her plan involves a. collecting and making public evidence that proves he is a Bad Man and b. making Cannon fall in love with her and then breaking his heart to give an emotional dimension to her revenge. Sure.

Given the author, it’s no surprise that the romantic/intimate scenes in the book are steamy and plentiful; however, there are plot elements in Lady Sophia’s Lover that will send your eyes rolling heavenward. Things happen conveniently, illogically, and implausibly. Also, Ross puts his hands on Sophia more than once and though he never hurts her, it disrupts the reading experience and leaves you giving the book the side-eye. This is B-list Kleypas and one of those romances whose relative redemption is because of the hero. Ross Cannon is a widower, a workaholic, and a profoundly honourable man. Kleypas writes especially appealing men (I can’t be the only one who thinks that) and Ross is delish.  He is smoking hot, even given the aforementioned element.

Worth Any Price – Nick Gentry and Charlotte Howard – Meh

Do you like lots of sex in a romance novel, but you don’t want it to cross into erotica? This is the book for you. Worth Any Price is long on physical intimacy and short on relationship development. Nick Gentry is a very successful Bow Street runner. He has taken a private contract to track down Charlotte Howard who fled her family when they attempted to marry her off to a controlling and lecherous old goat. Nick and Charlotte marry to shield her from the goat in that way that often happens in  romance novels. It’s a marriage of convenience that turns into a love match, or, more accurately in this case, a marriage of lust that conveniently turns into love. There is a lot a good sex, it is Kleypas after all, but it is not long on romance, logic or character development, plus the ending has an egregious deus ex machina. Don’t bother. If you must bother, go with Lady Sophia’s Lover.

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.