Anne Stuart
Click the button for the HTML codes


Mira Books
Release Date
August 2010
Book 1 of The House of Rohan
Historical Romance

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.

Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Oct 12, 2010   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
125 people found the following review helpful
Dark and sexy, provocative and riveting, Ruthless holds you in its grip from the first page to the last.

Penniless Elinor Harriman struck the fancy of Francis Rohan, one of the young emigre population in France and more notoriously, the King of Hell and one of the Heavenly Host who holds licentious parties where anything goes. Elinor didn't want to accept his charity, but for the sake of her sister, she did, and soon, she found herself fascinated and drawn to this man whom she should stay away from.

Francis Rohan is a complicated man of contradictions, which made him a very interesting character. Because he is so very different from the usual heroes, he caught my attention. He's part of the Heavenly Host, a dissipated group of exiled aristocrats who revels in orgiastic delights and hedonistic pleasures. Yet, he's rather bored when we see him at the start of yet another three-day-no-holds-barred party at his chateau an hour's ride from Paris, and he commented that he'd rather sit down with a good book. I find that comment rather telling of his real character. Perhaps his lifestyle had caught up with him. His boredom was a big part of him, as a result of having seen and done a lot of things most men wouldn't have by age thirty-nine, and his fascination with Elinor stems from the fact that she cured this longstanding affliction. Beautiful women he could have had with a flick of his fingers, and so, he found himself intrigued with Elinor's mind. Then again, supposedly the seducer of innocents, he's very adamant that Elinor be blindfolded while he took her around the chateau in search of her mother, so that she wouldn't see the goings-on in the place.

His character was so strong and beautifully depcited that by the end of the book, I find myself with contradictory feelings about him. I liked him because of the careful way he treated the heroine, even though he didn't know why he was so fascinated with her. At the same time, I disliked him because the heroine's presence in his life didn't put a stop to his goings-on, that he even found himself "enjoying the wanting, enjoying spending that need [for Elinor] on others while the ultimate prize awaited."

But then, such is the brilliance of Anne Stuart's characterization, because Rohan is a very cynical and dissipated man. He wouldn't stop his activities merely because he was intrigued by a chit. He even denied nearly to the very end that Elinor was important enough to make him feel things he'd never felt or that he'd change his ways because of her. No, it would take more than fascination with a woman who didn't bore him, and we see how Elinor slowly erodes the walls around his heart and invaded it. So much so that he yearned for her at the same time that he squashed such feelings down and determined to let her go because he felt himself not worthy of her. And thus, another emotion I never thought I'd feel for a hero: sympathy.

His licentiousness was explained away as due to his tortuous past and to keep nightmares at bay, and I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced. The presence of his friend, Charles Reading, was good in that his comments and observations provided us further insight into the man who was Francis Rohan, fleshing out the man, who in his own eyes, was a bad man with no room in his life for a good woman.

Elinor suffers from having a terrible mother, and because of that, she'd become overly protective of her younger sister, even to the point of sacrificing herself. Insecure as a result of her upbringing and society's definition of a beautiful woman, she was blind to Rohan's fascination with her and instead believes that he's out to get her sister. And like a mother hen, she was fierce and selfless in her protectiveness, never suspecting that she was falling into the trap each time she came in contact with the viscount. She searches for love and for someone to want her for herself, and she looked for them in Rohan, yet I can't seem to recall a time when she was curious about him, like wanting to know what made him to be the man he is. Perhaps, in her own way, she was in denial because if she knew more about Rohan, she'd fall that much faster.

A thread of mystery and suspense is woven into the fabric of the story, as well as a secondary romance, but they didn't take the focus away from Rohan and Elinor. Instead, they added depth to the story, and the unravelling of the mystery did prompt Rohan into action. All in all, if you like dark, sexy romance with a moody hero who is utterly bad, then this is the book for you.
Was this review helpful to you?   
Follow The Romance Reviews
Send us an email: carole @
Ⓒ 2010 - 2018 The Romance Reviews. All rights reserved.
March 21, 2018 12:37 AM ( EST )