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Reforming Lord Ragsdale

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,493 ratings  ·  186 reviews
The Rake's Progress

Emma Costello owed a debt of honor to one of the most dishonorable lords in the realm. The infamous Lord Ragsdale was as rich as sin, as sinful as he was rich, and as heartless as he was handsome. But he had saved Emma from a fate worse than death when he stopped a lecherous brute from buying her as an indentured servant.

It was Emma's turn now to save L
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 1995 by Signet
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Lord Carew's Bride by Mary BaloghReforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla    KellyThe Temporary Wife by Mary BaloghMrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla    KellyThe Wedding Journey by Carla    Kelly
Traditional Regency
2nd out of 462 books — 191 voters
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry ThomasReforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla    KellyScandal by Carolyn JewelYours Until Dawn by Teresa MedeirosThe Parfit Knight by Stella Riley
Best Character Driven Historical Romance
2nd out of 40 books — 22 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,409)
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I think this may be the best Regency romance I've ever read. CARLA KELLY CAN WRITE. She creates these characters that live and breathe, complex characters with flaws and heart that you can't help but cheer for. I've never read a Regency romance quite like this one. There are serious themes of redemption, prejudice, and forgiveness mixed with wit and romance. The blend is intoxicating--a novel that made me laugh, made me cry, made me swoon, and, importantly, made me think and reevaluate myself. H ...more
Four solid stars for this gritty but tender historical. I have been reading (and/or re-visiting) Carla Kelly's novels this week. Reforming Lord Ragsdale is a digital re-issue of a 1995 Signet Regency. I liked it, but not as much as The Lady's Companion. (That's my favorite by CK, so far).

IMO, this talented author tackles too many somber themes at once: alcoholism, racism, indentured servanthood, and the injustices of a biased penal system. She vividly describes the slime and the smells of Newga
Lady Wesley
Nov 22, 2014 Lady Wesley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All lovers of historical romance
This review may also be found at Romantic Historical Reviews, a blog created especially for lovers of historical romance. Follow us at for reviews, give-aways, interesting insights, and historical tidbits.

Five ++++ stars!

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of romance novels that have brought me to tears. To that list I must add Reforming Lord Ragsdale.

John Staples, Marquess of Ragsdale, is an unrepentant rake. Not the handsome, charming, am
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. To be honest, when it first started I didn’t think I would. Lord Ragsdale starts off as your typical drunken rake. I knew from the title that the story was going to be about his supposed reformation, but I wasn’t sure how that would be pulled off. Somehow it happens though and along with Emma I actually found myself liking him. Emma really does bring a believable change in him and it was refreshing to read a Regency where I actually ended up liking ...more
Miranda Davis
I've come late to Ms. Kelly and heard about her by reading reviews of my favorite truffle hound reviewers. Her best, by far, is Reforming Lord Ragsdale. Crystalline, deftly portrayed characters with histories that are based on history and its tragic human consequences. A good man learns to forgive himself and let himself love; a good woman learns to trust one who by all rights she should despise. The plot ticks right along and there isn't a stupid ploy anywhere. I liked both characters though th ...more
Mary B.
Need I say more? This was my first read by Carla Kelly. She was an author that was suggested to me many times by my many GR friends, and I can definitely see why. The woman can write!

The hero, John Staples, Lord Ragsdale, is a Marquess. The second son who never expected to become the heir, John is a bit of a nonconformist as far as Marquesses go. When we meet him, he is a slacker. He is indolent, frivolous, and completely ignorant of the real world and real problems. He sails through his privil
4.5 stars
Reforming Lord Ragsdale was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it. The writing style reminded me of something in between Georgette Heyer and Anne Gracie. This is a clean read but it's a great story with excellent dialogue and character development. I never missed the spice. John and Emma were a very unusual couple. I really liked Emma, she had a great spirit, was very smart and resilient. She had secrets and scars too. John or Lord Ragsdale was a mess and needed to be reformed
Katrina Passick Lumsden
This is a really sweet, funny, well-written romance. I loved John to distraction, and Emma, even though I found her to be a bit cold at times, was refreshing in a heroine as she was neither simpering nor overbearing. She was intelligent and warm (when drawn out of her shell) and just the kind of no-nonsense wake up call that John needed. The two of them strike up such a warm, unlikely friendship that the reader can't help but feel the tension and hope they both stop being idiots and realize they ...more
Okay, I almost didn't finish reading this one. The VERY first chapter starts out with Lord Ragsdale(hero) at his mistress's house. I HATE the "mistress" talk in regency romances. HATE it. Anyway, it wasn't descriptive but definitely let you know he enjoyed going there. I was annoyed to say the least and worried about whether the story was going to be clean..not to mention I was disliking the "main character" immensely. I got on goodreads and read reviews on the book again though and decided to g ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4.5/5; 5 stars; A

Carla Kelly has a gift for taking real historical events and crafting them into the foundation of her stories and the characters that those stories are about. I really enjoyed the premise of this book; a man who has allowed himself to become a dissolute wastrel as some sort of punishment for his sins during the war is dragged by the ear back on to a steady course by an indentured servant who thinks he is absolutely worthless in the beginning. As in so many of her books, Carla Ke
Felicia J.
I expected to enjoy Reforming Lord Ragsdale after reading so many rave reviews of Carla Kelly's books. But all the glowing recommendations didn't prepare me for how I'd feel about this novel. I didn't just enjoy it. I adored it.

The back-cover description makes this book sound like yet another cliched "reforming rake" story, but Carla Kelly seems incapable of writing in a cliched manner. Lord Ragsdale, English lord, and Emma Costello, Irish servant, became so real to me. Their conversations, reac
Ana T.
The Rake's Progress

Emma Costello owed a debt of honor to one of the most dishonorable lords in the realm. The infamous Lord Ragsdale was as rich as sin, as sinful as he was rich, and as heartless as he was handsome. But he had saved Emma from a fate worse than death when he stopped a lecherous brute from buying her as an indentured servant.

It was Emma's turn now to save Lord Ragsdale from his wicked ways. She had to find a way to stop his drinking, his gaming, his wild revelry. She had to make h
Trissa White
Clean regency romance. I didn't expect to like it because of the mistress and Lord Ragsdale's shady character. I prefer my fictional men to be honorable and good to the core. I was completely surprised at how much I did like him and learned that he really was a good man. There was a very very sad story attached to the heroine and because I know nothing of the actual history I wonder how much of it was based on truth. Their friendship developed over 80% of the book and romance did not show itself ...more
Stella Riley
My thanks to Carla Kelly for saving my sanity on the day when The Black Madonna was stuck in a loop on Amazon and my stress level was going through the roof.
Reforming Lord Ragsdale is a beautifully-crafted example of a slowly developing relationship and both lead characters are very well-drawn. The inherent kindness in Lord Ragsdale makes him a loveable and extremely attractive hero. As for the sequence where he lies in bed getting completely legless and then wakes up to the inevitable consequen
Feb 10, 2014 Corduroy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Corduroy by: kathleen*
My goodness. This is quite a book.

I've only recently discovered Carla Kelly's works (I started with The Lady's Companion, which is also pretty wonderful) and each one I've read so far has been startlingly great.

In this book, the Heroine, Emma, is an indentured Irish servant who, as her backstory slowly reveals, is an upper-class woman brought very low through tragic circumstance. Emma is a great character, like a lot of Kelly's female leads. She's so real, so funny, so strong and tough and vul
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
Bouncing between three and four stars! Maybe like a 3.67234! I really enjoyed this book! It was a good read and kept me entertained! That being said somewhere along the way the spark or magic of this book was lost to me! I don't know where it went! I just wasn't feeling any depth to the characters and the love story felt not genuine at all!

What a beautifully crafted book! The story is original, the characters are wonderfully drawn, and the emotions are so real. I really don't know what else to say. It's now out as an ebook and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes historicals, regencies, Carla Kelly, or anyone who simply loves a well-written book.
I just finished re-reading this book today after having read it for the first time a few weeks ago. I loved it even more the second time around and so I changed my original 4 star rating to 5 stars. This book is a great read.

"Reforming Lord Ragsdale" is a clean regency love story. However, rather than focusing on the romance, most of the story centres around the evolving friendship between the leading characters John Staples (Lord Ragsdale) and his indentured servant Emma Costello. The book is f
Does anyone else smell smoke, cause I am burning through these Regency romances of late! I am thinking, in theory mind, that I could hobnob with the best and worst of them, provided I get that time machine up and running and procur that voucher to Almacks. My friends and family have been giving me funny looks, what with my sudden penchant for beginning each thought with the words, "I say!" and adding "my lord" or "my lady" to the end of every sentence and my grandmother has been asking to borrow ...more
Emma - an Irishwoman who lost her family, home, and freedom 5 years earlier. She was sent to America and became an indentured servant to the Claridge Family. She travels to England with Robert and Sally Claridge.

John Staples, aka Lord Ragsdale - a rake of the worst sort. He has plenty of reasons to hate the Irish - the two top reasons being they killed his father and because of them, he lost an eye. So he isn't happy when he sees this Irishwoman show up at his home with his distant cousins, Robe
What a change it is for me to seek a mainstream author but for once I wanted something tried and true... and from all the reviews, I gathered Reforming Lord Ragsdale was one of Carla Kelly's most-loved books.

It certainly didn't disappoint. This is one solid, thoroughly enjoyable book. Reforming Lord Ragsdale is the journey of John Staples who from grief, boredom and disillusionment lives the life of a lazy, drunkard rake. With the help of practical Emma, he rekindles his zest for life and re-le
There is economy in the writing here which leaves everything else to its characters and the dialogue. It was like pouring a glass of champagne and watching the tiny bubbles rise to the surface. The flow of the words is brilliantly done! This clean romance was a fantastic read from beginning to end.
Marvelously paced, and a great refreshing chaste read. I mean, everyone likes their smut, but after a while it starts to feel gratuitous and cheap and this book is a nice change from all that. The premise sounds a bit cliched, but the usual trappings of jealousy and miscommunication are completely avoided; instead, there's a huge focus on the growth of the main characters and the development of their backstories, not to mention their interactions with each other. There's a huge number of other c ...more
Maybe it was my mood, I really did not love this one. Which to be honest made me so sad! I liked Emma but Lord Ragsdale made my stomach turn. The story immediately starts out with him talking about his Mistress in some detail. I didn't like how he talked about her and her "talents." For some reason that was a rough way to begin a sweet romance for me and so therefore it never got to the sweet part. I just thought also there was way to much friction between the two and not in a good way. The endi ...more
I love this author's works and sought hard to find this book. It was a great read beginning with a main character that has hit bottom with the bitterness of life, but resists anyone's attempts to help and with an unlikely savior who can't stand him, but is determined to see him better with his agreement to set her free from her obligations. At times it is hilarious and at times it breaks your heart, but you grow to love the people. The historical backdrop and depth of the characters is amazing.
So, I have read one other book from this author in the past and it was by far not what I call clean. I found this book on a clean regency list and was a little skeptical but it was only .99 cents so I gave it a try. It turned out to be clean and very entertaining! I bought another one of her books after I read this one and it wasn't clean. Its a hit and miss with this author. Its really quite sad because she writes the regency era so beautifully.

Come on people, if you have amazing talent dont r
Maureen Kelly
A fanciful romp

I really wanted to enjoy this book as I really like Carla Kelly's stories. I did in parts, but overall, it fell flat for me. I think it was the constant dialogue and the curious changes of tempo. I missed descriptions of scenery and the little touches that spice up a story. I guess my main complaint is that I could not follow the story, the constant changes in tempo confused me and I was not a fan of the hero's constant chattering. I did enjoy the evolution of the heroine, which i
The characters made it difficult to get into the story at first. Mostly, because it felt so incredibly trite. The bored-to-death-of-my-life rake character has been done to death (especially of the scarred variety) and Lord Ragsdale was frankly so unremarkable that I got bored at first and nearly put it down. It wasn't until the heroine got a firm footing the story that it started to hold my interest.

Most of the book was entertaining, but very predictable. Seeing the play between the hero and her
I had just finished Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand, and really enjoyed it, so I searched for yet another by Carla Kelly. This book was totally different than the first I read by the author. The writing did NOT remind me of old children's novels, like the first, although I really enjoyed that book. It seemed more normal to me. I really liked the heroine of the story, Emma and found her to be very courageous. Lord Ragsdale, I liked him more as the book went on, though his transformation was nearly mirac ...more
My dear Grandma lent this to me to read, and I wasn't expecting much, not usually a fan of historical romance. However, I found that the characters had a lot of depth; they lived and breathed. The plot kept me turning the pages, and I was so interested in the tough but vulnerable Emma's story, and how things would turn out for John. The romance is pretty down played; their relationship wasn't based on romance. I think that's what made it so darn interesting. Well done for a quick read.

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Although Carla Kelly is well known among her readers as a writer of Regency romance, her main interest (and first writing success) is Western American fiction—more specifically, writing about America's Indian Wars. Although she had sold some of her work before, it was not until Carla began work in the National P
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“Oh, well, she decided as her eyes began to close, it is better to love foolishly than to hate bitterly. I hope I am wiser than I was and more kind.” 4 likes
“Oh, dear, she thought, this is probably more democracy than an Englishman can stand.” 0 likes
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