Shelly's Reviews > Ruthless

Ruthless by Anne Stuart
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Aug 07, 14

bookshelves: audiobook-version, romance-historical
Read from April 23 to May 04, 2012

** spoiler alert ** So many of my GR friends have read this and loved it. I had high hopes for this one, and I have to say even if I didn't absolutely 5 star love it, it was very good! My first Anne Stuart, but won't be my last. I listened to the audio for this one, took me awhile as I haven't been able to find the time everyday to listen to it, but I finally finished!

The Rundown: The setting is Georgian era France (with the exception of a few historical details, like 20 years after Culloden, and the clothing descriptions and powdered wigs, I would have thought this was maybe a Regency or before Victorian really) and Elinor and her younger sister Lydia are broke. They live in a ramshackled house just outside of a decent neighborhood with their crazy mother, literally, and two servants, Nanny Maude and Jacobs the coachman, who are more family to them, especially since they don't pay them anymore. Their mother who has the Spanish/English/French disease (depending on what country your in), or the 'clap' as it's lovingly referred to now, and has not been treated for it (don't know if in those days you could) and is going mad. An excessive gambler and, well, for lack of a better word, whore, their mother, Lady Caroline, has run off with the last piece of property they have that's worth anything to sell so she can gamble at a Heavenly Host party.

Determined to find their mother and get the jewelry back, Elinor heads to the party which is being hosted by Francis Rohan, an English lord who has been exiled to France, and by some fluke, inherited a French title as well. Having only heard rumors about what goes on at these parties, she hopes to grab her mother and prays she hasn't bartered the jewels away and run home. Unfortunately, Rohan is bored and she intrigues him, even though she meets him with a half-naked woman draped across his lap. Rohan agrees to help her find her mother, but she has to be blindfolded while searching so it doesn't shock her too bad. When she is found, Lady Caroline is of course out of sorts, she's too unattractive now to sleep around, the disease has ravaged her body, and no one wants to give her credit to gamble, knowing she has nothing. Rohan sends Lady Caroline home with his friend Charles Redding, but keeps Elinor and has his English housekeeper tend to her.

Elinor just wants to go home, and doesn't like that she's attracted The King of Hell's attention, but he won't be put aside and when he escorts her home, he gives her quite the lesson in er. . . her own body and pleasure. Meanwhile, Charles Redding has met Lydia, Elinor's most beautiful sister, and sparks are flying already. On his way back from Elinor's, Rohan is riding with Redding, and is shot in his own carriage, just in the arm. Redding thinks someone is out to kill Rohan, but he just laughs it off. Knowing how destitute Elinor and her family are, Rohan sends food, furniture and firewood to them, much to Lydia's delight and Elinor's ire. However, since they have no money, she can hardly turn it down. Neither sister has attracted a wealthy suitor since they have no dowry, and Elinor hasn't been able to find a job. All Elinor wants to do is protect her beautiful sister, and so she goes to Rohan's house to tell him he can't have Lydia. Rohan informs her he's interested in her, but Elinor with with 'Harriman nose' and plain hair doesn't believe anyone would be interested in her. It's been drilled into her head all her life that Lydia is the beautiful one, not Elinor. She has trouble believing Rohan isn't interested in Lydia.

Elinor's father and Lady Caroline's ex-husband (Lydia, although born while Caroline was married to him, is widely accepted to have someone else as a father) recently died, leaving no direct male heirs to pass the title onto, but a Marcus Harriman, distant cousin is found. Having heard her father left her a small stipend, she meets with Marcus to find out what it is. Unfortunately, Lady Caroline has one of her fits and attacks Marcus, and he can't leave fast enough without telling Elinor what she's received.

Rohan has decided that he must marry Elinor off to his cousin Etienne, a Frenchman who was going to inherit the title, until Rohan came to town, therefore hates him but is a decent enough man, as well as doctor, on his own. This way he can dally with her, and it all still be respectable and she will have a good marriage to support her and her family. Etienne immediately sets his eyes on Lydia, who's in love with Charles. Circles and circles!

One night, Elinor wakes up to find the house on fire. Escaping with barely their life, Elinor realizes their mother is still inside. She goes back in, but her mother is in full blown madness, and dishes one final blow to Elinor about how she was a terrible daughter and Lady Caroline only loved Lydia, refusing to leave the house. Elinor is whisked out of the house by Rohan, who just happened to be driving by and sends them to his house for care. Nanny Maude doesn't make it, smoke inhalation too much, and Elinor has burned the bottom of her feet. After few days care, they are on the mend, and Jacobs escorts the bodies back to England for burial.

Rohan who's becoming obsessed with Elinor, tells her if she doesn't stay to keep his mind entertained, he will definitely go after her sister, who's been sent to Rohan's country house. Agreeing to protect her sister, she stays, and ultimately Rohan and Elinor end up in bed together. Finally. Rohan freaks out the next day, realizing his feelings are much deeper, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. Elinor overhears his conversation with Redding, and it's not flattering. Marcus suddenly appears and whisks her away, saying he only wanted to rescue her. His plan is to take her back to England and marry her, this way she will be taken care of, and he's told her Lydia has married Etienne, so she will be taken care of too. Elinor agrees in haste, and they leave for England the next day.

Three drunk days pass, where Rohan has done nothing but drink because Elinor is gone, but doesn't know where, Charles Redding whisks Lydia off to get married, and when he goes to find Elinor, they learn from the servants who took her. How convenient that Rohan knows Marcus is an imposter, he's really her bastard half-brother, and that Elinor inherited the estate, but never told her. Fearing for her safety, and even though he's banned from entering England (he'd die a traitor's death for his part in the Jacobite uprising at Culloden where he lost his entire family at age 17), he races to save her, just in the nick of time, when Marcus who's already married her, is about to kill her. Of course Rohan is successful, Marcus dies, and oh yeah, Elinor realizes she's pregnant. Stop. This is where it ends completely.

My Thoughts: First, hate the ending. There's no epilogue, Rohan literally rescues her, confesses his love, and she agrees to marry him. The end. It felt way to sudden, but from what I know of the next book, it's their son's story, so I imagine we get filled in there.

Second, Elinor and Rohan have sex several times in one night, but that's it, and less than two weeks later, she knows she's pregnant. I don't want to say it's impossible, but yeah, just because your gross half brother pretending to be your cousin kisses you and it makes you wanna gag, your first thought shouldn't be that you're pregnant, with a son no doubt. Little bit of bs there, for me anyway.

I love Elinor, she's tough and a fighter, a little pushover-y when it comes to her mom, but it's all she's got. A little too protective of Lydia, but again, someone has to do it, her mother certainly won't. She does what she can to survive, and she's got serious spunk. She's been ill used and needs some TLC. Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as crazy about Rohan. He's too arrogant, and I don't think he grovels enough to deserve Elinor. Sure, he kills two men who have harmed her, but he's so cavalier about it, fussy about his wardrobe, he even sleeps with another woman during the course of the book! No, I don't think Rohan quite deserved Elinor, but of course, lol - there's lots of woman who can say that about their husbands, women are just awesome!

I really enjoyed the writing though. Stuart is great at describing things, and the story flowed very well for me. It was a little different from what I'm use to, but I like that about it too. It didn't feel formulaic and tired, it was fresh and interesting, something that's hard to find nowadays. Lots of character building, which I love, and even though Elinor and Rohan don't finally get together until the last quarter of the book, I didn't feel cheated. Their witty banter is enough to keep me interested, although when they finally did, I might have let out a "Hallelujah!" or something, lol. We get to see all of Elinor's emotions, from anger to fear to desperation and finally love. There's only a split second we get to really see Rohan's, when he's about to walk away from her because the emotions are too much for him. I really wished we could have seen more, because to me it felt he was more obsessed with her than love. Maybe it's just me.

I didn't read the blurb for the second book, and I'm kinda glad I didn't. I went through the whole book thinking Lydia and Charles Redding would be in book two, and we'd learn more about Charles and his beautifully ruined face. All this tension building up between them, it was so exciting! I have to say I felt a little let down that their story was all wrapped up rather quickly, I think they could have had their own book and I would have loved it! Why was Charles so broke that Rohan teased constantly he couldn't marry Lydia because he needed an heiress? And either I missed it or it wasn't there, but how did he exactly get that scar on his face? I believe I remember a sword-fight, but about what? Sounds like a story there.

If you've not read Anne Stuart, I'd suggest you give her a try. She's different and a fresh style from what's out there, at least in this book, I'm hoping it's like that in all, because I rather enjoy it. Be forewarned though, this hero is not your typical hero, as he put it, he's 'not a bad man, just not a very good one either.'
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Reading Progress

05/03/2012 "OMG - Eleanor's mother is horrible!!"

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* How are you liking this Shelly? I can get them at the library,Ive seen good & bad reviews..which way to be swayed?

Shelly So far it's intriguing, lol - I'm listening to the audio, and I'm about 2 hours in, so far I really don't see how the 'hero' can be so loved. He is decidedly the most overwhelmingly terrible despot I've seen yet in a romance!

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Shelly aka Shell's Bells wrote: "So far it's intriguing, lol - I'm listening to the audio, and I'm about 2 hours in, so far I really don't see how the 'hero' can be so loved. He is decidedly the most overwhelmingly terrible despo..."

That's what I heard..but there must be something that made these so popular? Guess youll find that out..or not:)

Shelly I'll be sure to let you know!

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* A wow and a 4 star? Must be good:)

Shelly It was, I have errands to run, but will write a review later today!

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Shelly aka Shell's Bells wrote: "It was, I have errands to run, but will write a review later today!"

Look forward to I take it you will be reading the rest in the series:)

Shelly Yes, definitely! About to start writing it, but have to clear off my desk!

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Great review Shelly!! Holy what the heck stuff going on here! Just what I need at the moment:) I put this one on hold at the library..thanks!

Shelly Thanks Sandi, I hope you enjoy it!

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