Friday, August 13, 2010

Recent Read

Ruthless by Anne Stuart

Why this one: I've always loved Anne Stuart. In fact I think I have more of her books than any other author except one - Nora Roberts. When I heard she was coming out with another historical, and not just one but THREE, I was so there.

Steam Level: While not a lot of sex scenes, it still manages to be quite a sexy read

Blurb: Few outsiders will ever witness the dark misdeeds of the Heavenly Host. And among this secret society, where exiled Georgian aristocrats gather to indulge their carnal desires, fewer still can match the insatiable appetite of their chief provocateur, the mysterious Viscount Rohan.

Pursuit of physical pleasure is both his preferred pastime and his most pressing urge, until he encounters the fascination of a woman who won''t be swayed. And while his dark seduction appalls the pure and impoverished Elinor Harriman, she finds herself intrigued…and secretly drawn to the man behind the desire.

My Thoughts: I know this is not the first time this has been said, not by me and not by others, but Anne Stuart writes some of the darkest, most twisted heroes and I love that about her writing. She takes a hero, takes him almost to the edge of us readers hating him and then manages to pull him back from the brink to the point where we just love their twistedness. And Francis, Viscount Rohan is no exception. He's the leader of the Heavenly Host, a group of depraved, bored aristocrats living in France to whom nothing is forbidden. He first meets Elinor, our heroine, when she breaks into one of his wild parties determined to find her mother who is dying of the pox. Francis is bored, bored of his 'friends' with the exception of one, bored of his decadent lifestyle, just bored of everything. So when he meets Elinor, a rather plain, prickly young woman who so obviously has fallen on very bad times, he is intrigued and can't quite seem to get her out of his head. Much to his dismay he finds himself thinking of her, even to the point of becoming her benefactor, much to her dismay. You see Elinor is horrified by him and even more so, afraid he will set his depraved sights on her younger sister Lydia. But her family is in such reduced circumstances, that she is forced to accept his contributions.

Francis is confused. At first he's determined not to have anything to do with her, then he figures he'll marry her off. Then he figures he'll marry her off, but have her for himself later. It would be so easy to dislike this vain, hedonistic man, but as I said, Ms. Stuart can find a way to make us route for such a hero and I found myself smiling at his self-delusion since we know what's really happening is he's falling in love with her, though he would be appalled to think such a thing himself. He's wonderfully and deliciously wicked.

Now Eleanor Harriman I found a bit problematic for me. At times she was more than a match for Francis. In fact most of the time she was. But I also found her too self-sacrificing and I would get annoyed with her. She gives up EVERYTHING for the sake of her sister's welfare, even to the point of forgoing milk in her tea so her sister could have it. I'm not to fond of martyr heroines and/or heroes and she crosses that line a few times to much and too many for me. Lydia, her sister, is a lot more savvy than Eleanor gives her credit for and I found it too much at times. And I really didn't understand her loyalty to her mother. Her mother pulled some real nasty sh#t on Eleanor, yet at one point in the story, she was ready to die herself to save her mother. I didn't get that.

There's also a lovely secondary romance between Lydia and Francis's only real friend, Robert. It's a touching romance between two people who fall in love, but feel their love cannot flourish due to circumstances.

Overall I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I adored Francis, but thought Eleanor could have been a little less selfless. But I'm glad her next one comes out so soon. I'll be getting it for sure!

Grade: 4 out of 5


JennJ said...

Great review I'll have to give this author a try I've never read her before. :)

Hope you have a great weekend.

CindyS said...

I loved Rohan because he was so friggin' charming despite being such an ass! He was very upset when he clothes got ruffled. Can't wait for the next two books!


Anonymous said...

Ditto what CindyS said. Rohan was quite charming, but still an ass, and I loved it! I agree that Elinor was a bit of a martyr, but it didn't bother too much. If she hadn't been essentially sold to that old pervert when she was 17, then I probably would have found her too self-sacrificing. But, given her experience and her mother's unpredictability and obvious unrepentent willingness sacrifice her daughters for her own selfish pleasures, I could see why Elinor would go to such lengths to protect her sister.

I really liked the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a darker hero who you want to hate and be disgusted with, but just can't because he can be so damn charming.

Jill D. said...

This one is on my radar. Glad to see you enjoyed it. When at RT this year, I went to her panel and asked her a question about her bad-boy heroes. Because she was one of the first to take these heroes to that edge. I asked her if her publisher ever thought she went to far and told her to reel it back in. Her response was no, they trusted her :) I thought that was cool!

orannia said...

Oh, I like to the edge bad boy heroes :) And this cinched it for me:

So when he meets Elinor, a rather plain, prickly young woman...

Plain? You mean, she's not the most beautiful woman in the world? *cue music* Like...YAH! Finally!

Thank you Kristie!

Anonymous said...

orannia said:

"Plain? You mean, she's not the most beautiful woman in the world? *cue misuc* Like...YAH! Finally!"

Ya, a nice change of pace. I'm reading a book right now with a heroine who was not a beauty (although considered striking because of certain features) but, lo and behold, she all of a sudden is the most beautiful in the ton. I guess she had to morph into beautiousness since her personality was so annoying and volatile that an HEA between the hero and heroine would have been a hard sell for some readers. Oh yeah and the freckles (she was a flaming red-head) that she had up until she was at least 17 were miraculously gone when the hero and heroine next see each other. Of course, because a woman with freckles may as well have the pox in a romance novel.

nath said...

Nice review, Kristie :D I'm not sure if I'm going to read this series because Anne Stuart is pretty much hit and miss with me... Glad you enjoyed it though :D

What do you think of the fact it's one generation/book?

Kaetrin said...

Oh, I liked this one too. Rohan was to die for.

I might have thought Elinor too martyr-y but for that she was willing for her sister to marry the doctor, knowing she didn't love him but it was best for the family, Elinor included. I thought her view was fair enough given the times and it wasn't like being married to the doctor would have been awful (at least, from what we know of him in this book.... *backs away mysteriously*) but it wasn't "lurrve" either so I was kind of pleasantly surprised that she was prepared for sis to make the sacrifice and even encouraged it.

But it was Rohan who made the book. *swoon* :D

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

Hey Kristi,
Check out my review of Ruthless for Romance Novel News, and let me know what you think!