AUTHOR(S): Carla Kelly
GENRE: Historical Romance -- Regency England
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1995
LENGTH: 224 pages
DATE READ: August 2016
READING CHALLENGES: 2016 TBR Challenge; Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge; 2016 Oldie But Goodie Reading Challenge
THEMES/TROPES: Enemies to Lovers; Employer/Employee Romance; Class Differences; Tormented Heroine; Scarred Hero; Addiction
RATING: 4 STARS
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.MY THOUGHTS:
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 him break with his mistress, the superbly sensual Fae Moulle. She had to make him a suitable suitor for the ideal wife that the prim and proper Lady Clarissa Partridge would be. And above all, she had to keep his lustful eye from lingering too long on herself--even as she struggled to keep her own growing desire from undoing all her hard work in the unmaking of this irresistible rake.
I read this book for the 2016 TBR Challenge -- August -- Kicking It Old School. The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.
Carla Kelly is an author whose style is very distinctive and I enjoy reading her. Reforming Lord Ragsdale is one of those books that has been recommended to me many times. I adore enemies to lovers romances and the idea of an Irish indentured servant who is "rescued" by a former soldier who despises the Irish seemed like a story that I had to try. I bought it years ago when it went on sale and then it languished on my e-reader until it came time to pick an Old School romance for this month's TBR theme.
John Staples, Lord Ragsdale, is not husband material. He spends his days drinking, lying about, and cavorting with his mistress. But, his life is changed forever when his American cousins arrive to partake in the Season along with Emma Costello, an indentured servant. John is intrigued by Emma, but has little interaction with her until he prevents her from being sold to an unsavory character and finds himself with a woman who owes him her life. Emma is then assigned to reform John who is hoping to marry the lovely Lady Clarissa. What follows is a delightful and emotional story about two people who are total opposites, but just work so well as a couple.
I loved watching the evolution of John with Emma's help. While he does have some major vices, I appreciated the fact that John was not a mean person...just an oblivious one. Emma's influence forces him to evaluate what he is doing with his life and where he wants it to go. For her part, Emma was a fantastic heroine who has been through hell and come out of it stronger. She is not afraid of John and knows that she can make him a better person. Reforming Lord Ragsdale definitely brought tears to my eyes especially when Emma discussed her life in Ireland and her family.
This book is not very long, but I think the page length worked really well. There are a few subplots (mostly associated with John's cousins and Emma's search for her family) that balance out the romance. I did find myself bored with the scenes featuring John's courtship of Clarissa though I think that was because I was fully shipping Emma and John by that point. I do wish that the ending had been better paced. It felt rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. But, I think Reforming Lord Ragsdale is another successful Carla Kelly story that I will revisit again.
"It is better to love foolishly than to hate bitterly. I hope I am wiser than I was and more kind."