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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2010 Anne Kristine Stuart Ohlrogge (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Witty, inventive, dark and sexy---a wild adventure for the mind...and the heart." (Susan Wiggs)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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"The best love story ever!

Loved it! I enjoy reading stories set in a time where romance and chivalry were in fashion. I always enjoyed listening to Susan Ericksen narrate, she has the perfect voice and accent for stories like this. It was romantic and full of mystery an, oh yeah sex. Rohan was wonderfully delicious, and unapologetically wicked. But, he met his match in the heroine Eleanor
! All the other characters were well written and quite interesting
. My favorite part was at the end, When Rohan realized his true feelings, and with no hesitation rushed to the rescue. Excellent read. Unfortunately, these wonderful characters were pushed to the background in the following series; the other stories and Rohans descendants were not as interesting. This is actually the best book in the series. Maybe one day they'll be a prequel, or the lost years of Rohan. I would love to read more about him. Pity.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Narration brings this riveting book alive

Would you listen to Ruthless again? Why?

Ericksen's reading makes this book unforgettable. This is a somewhat dark romance, with sometimes disturbing and graphic sexual content that frankly likely epitomize post-revolutionary France (and England). It's likely more realistic than some when it comes to the mores of the wealthy in Europe in the 1700s. Aristocrats lived high, and some with amoral abandon, amid the poor and folks like Elinor, members of titled-families who'd hit hard times. Makes clear the tough choices, and consequences for women. And Viscount Rohan is one of the most troubled "heroes'' I've come across in a novel. Which is probably a good thing. He's complicated, dark and sometimes cruel. Likely a more honest figure than many of the "bad boys'' in popular romance fiction, who often have unrealistic hearts of gold. Rohan generally does not, reflecting his horrible childhood in England.

What other book might you compare Ruthless to and why?

Its gritty nature reminds me a bit of "A Gentleman Undone,'' by Cecilia Grant, which centers on the troubled lives of soldiers and courtesans -- prostitutes, actually -- in the early 1800s. The characters in that book, like this one, are NOT saints -- sometimes trying to make decent choices, but often stumbling. That book also is narrated by Susan Ericksen, which is probably the biggest reason that I'd recommend both audiobooks. She makes these rather rugged historical romances come alive.

Which scene was your favorite?

For emotional power, probably the scenes where Viscount Rohan loses his control after Elinor comes clean about her scarred sexual past. And also the final HEA confrontation on the English cliffs.

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Lovely

I do wish there had been a little bit more sex, but overall the story was truly lovely. And listening to it in a British accent made it even more genuine.

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Love This!!!

I loved listening to this audiobook and the narrator was phenomenal!!! I recommend this book to anyone who loves to tag about roguish men falling for innocent women that reform them.

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  • Susynne
  • hartland, VT, United States
  • 06-03-15

Fantastic series!

Slightly demented, definitely wicked, heartily romantic, sort of humorous and indubitably depraved....oh, and virtually yummy!
A love story (or two) that exist and grow in the midst of sin, vice, and twisted morals. All with colorful characters, vivid personalities and a new angle for a historical HEA romance.

I have never been as surprised by a book as I was of this one.... I think a lot of that surprise arises from the fact that I truly enjoyed it! I loved this series ( this has been my 2nd time listening to it) even though it steps into a darker side of sin. This isn't erotica or anything overly graphic but it's still.... kind of twisted.

There was not a single character whose individuality or personality was not exceptionally well written!

I am NOT fond of lace, high heels, face patches or powdered wigs on the men in my novels. I also dislike the female versions which exist in this era. However I did find it almost humorous when our hero here was preening in what to my taste is less than virile when HE definitely was a very strong virile male lead. Other than those moments the visuals this era evokes were non existent.

NARRATOR : Susan Erickson isn't my favorite at all... but I can't really say why. Listen to the snippet and decide for yourself. All in all she delivered a very good performance.

CREDITWORTHY? YES!!!!!

HEAT FACTOR: SCORCHING!

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More story and less thought conveyance please!!!

Anne Stuart did a great job building characters in this book. I felt Rohan's was conveyed so perfectly that I could imagine him vividly in my mind's eye. He is crude and caring and strong and cruel and reprobate all packaged in the same person. Both sisters were very sweet and strong when it came to protecting one another and their loved ones. The affectionate souls were very nicely portrayed as well.

I have very mixed emotions about this book. In one hand the story was good and engaging and characters were so very well developed, but in the other, I feel less mind ramble should have been put in the story. It almost takes away from how good the story can be especially when some thoughts are repetitious or too much of it is given throughout the book. Other than that I fully enjoyed the book and am sure your will too.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not your typical historical romance!


A dark hero meets a sharp-tongued leading lady in this page turning story of a most unusual romance. If you’re looking for a light and fun historical you won’t find it here, don’t let the cover fool you, RUTHLESS is not for the tame reader who prefers a sweet romantic courting.

Known to many as the King of Hell, Viscount Francis Rohan leads a life of decadent indulgence and debauchery as leader of the Heavenly Host, an exclusive group of individuals who share his carnal appetites. When the less than shy Elinor Harriman storms into one of Rohan’s infamous parties looking for her mother, he’s instantly captivated by her bold and feisty personality. To Rohan Elinor presents an unexpected and challenging conquest, one that he gladly welcomes.

This is my first audiobook with Susan Ericksen as a narrator but it definitely won’t be my last. Her transition between accents is flawless and the male characters are believable. Ericksen’s narration really brings the story to life with her inflections and tone, you’re quickly transported back in time with Elinor and Rohan! Her depiction of Rohan is stellar, his arrogance and charm is is perfectly conveyed and Elinor’s quick wit is very entertaining. I’d venture to say listening made this book a better read.

While most readers will think Francis Rohan is not worthy of the hero title I found him enigmatic, intriguing and sexy…don’t judge me! Rohan is confident and mysterious, with a touch of darkness that makes him both dangerous and alluring. He’s said to be very experienced in the game of seduction, but I like that Anne Stuart leaves most of Rohan’s past sexual escapades to our imagination. Rohan might be an aristocrat but he is no gentleman, he lives life on his own terms and doesn’t apologize for it. I’ll admit he’s not swoon-worthy, I’d probably even say he’s detestable at times, but I couldn’t get enough of the King of Hell. I really applaud Anne Stuart for taking a chance and giving us somewhat of an anti-hero in Rohan that inspires empathy.

Elinor Harriman is not the standard leading lady you find in historicals. She’s an odd beauty with an opinionated personality who’s had a tumultuous upbringing with a not so loving mother, but is still a strong woman. I get her devotion to her younger sister, but I didn’t have much sympathy for her bitch of a mother who took advantage of her. She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett, in the way that she compares herself to her sister’s beauty and finds herself lacking, it didn’t help that her sister’s name is also Lydia! She constantly refers to her nose as her worst feature, calling it the Harriman nose (inherited by her father) which got old after a while, but I guess every girl is her worst critic. Elinor’s loyalty is to her family for which she’s sacrificed her own happiness and the possibility of a future, her selflessness is admirable. She’s a complex character who struggles with doing the right thing or giving into temptation. I love that Elinor doesn’t let her tortured past define her and realizes that there’s nothing wrong with putting herself first for once.

Aside from the main characters, we’re also introduced to Rohan’s best friend and right hand man, Charles Reading. He’s more of a mystery than Rohan and I was intrigued by his character and the possible romance between him and Elinor’s younger sister Lydia. Their moments together were brief but sweet and I found myself liking their chemistry a little more than our main couple. I hope Anne Stuart gives us more of Charles and Lydia soon!

The chemistry between Rohan and Elinor starts off as flirty banter before anything gets serious between them. Rohan is instantly drawn to Elinor’s sharp tongue and while his intentions are to bed her, he soon realizes that his charms won’t work so easily on her. It was great to see Elinor play hard to get and Rohan’s frustration at the start of their relationship. Their relationship isn’t insta-love, coming together after a tragedy View Spoiler » which allows them to spend time together under the same roof and really get to know one another. My only tiff with this romance is that I expected more smexy times with this couple, especially with Rohan’s reputation. We go from one steamy scene in a stagecoach to nothing for a very long time. If I recall there were two sex scenes towards the end of the story but nothing memorable to rave about. All in all I did enjoy them as a couple. It’s not your typical feel good romance, but these two characters compliment each other perfectly.

If you’re like me and love to step out of the box with romance novels, this book is for you. RUTHLESS is a slow paced, dark romance with a little mystery that keeps you engaged from beginning to end. The ending felt a bit rushed for my tastes, but I was glad that Rohan and Elinor got their HEA after everything they’ve been through. Anne Stuart delivers a refreshing take on a “cookie-cutter” genre with her Byronic heroes and strong female protagonists in the House of Rohan series. I’ve found a new series and author to covet!

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Great Series

If you could sum up Ruthless in three words, what would they be?

Hot sexy intrigue - the series was worth the credits. I like really bad boys as the heros. This series had all bad boys and they were fun!

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  • Linda
  • Tuscaloosa, AL, United States
  • 05-04-13

The King of Hell gets a heart!

Where does Ruthless rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would save above average. It is a sweet love story with sweet love scenes and also a bit of mystery and humor. Only mild sex scenes, nothing explicit which was nice for a change.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the banter between Elenore and Rohan. Their story line was the best.

What about Susan Ericksen’s performance did you like?

FABULOUS......loved it all.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The end when all comes together...

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  • Necole
  • BAKERSFIELD, CA, United States
  • 04-16-13

WOW!!!!

I have always had a hard time with books that are of past times but this one took me from the beginning. Last night i started listening to it and could not put it down, reluctantly I turned it off to sleep but first thing this morning I started in again. OMG, I even stayed home from work to finish it and glad I did. The narrator did an amazing job and now I am going to start the next one in hopes that it takes me away.