Reforming Lord Ragsdale - Carla Kelly What a wonderful book. When was the last time I liked a heroine this much? Emma's story touched me deeply. Do not judge the book by its cover: it is not a romance book; better yet, it is a love story. I read this book in less than 12 hours; I was that engrossed in the story. My review would be, basically, what this book IS NOT about. Don't get me wrong; I love Regencies romances as much as anyone, but I find that most of them are similar in a lot of things. Not this book; it was refreshing, and just... amazing.

1. It is NOT about a heroine who is clumsy, or cheerful, or rebellious, or with strange interests. It is NOT a Cinderella heroine

Since the moment Emma shows up I liked her already. And she did nothing; she was quiet and docile, as a servant. And her story was so sad! She went thru so many things, but she was brave and honest; a true Lady. She never complains, and the few times she cries will break your heart.

2. It is NOT about a charming and powerful rake falling in love with an inferior girl.

Lord Ragsdale was instantly interested in Emma, not because of her looks, but of her posture and her efficiency. Until he finds out she is Irish (he is English) and begins to be mean to her. He is not rude, but the things he did or said were not nice. Yes, he has money. Yes, he has a mistress. He likes to drink, he is lazy, but he also has a sad past, which left him with a blind eye. We see how he reforms smoothly, and the fact that he truly has a heart and that he is not the frivolous drunk he is at the beginning.

When Emma starts to work as Lord Ragsdale secretary, it was something very similar to the movie "Two Weeks Notice". He relied on her for every tiny detail; she was efficient and hard-working. He worried about her, and wanted to know more about her past. She wanted to do her job and not get too involved. She was against guys like him, but she could see, besides his flaws, his virtues.

I also love the many times John says "Emma"; I could imagine him saying it very tenderly.

3. The ex-mistress is NOT a wicked, jealous woman.

In fact, Fae is rather nice, and she is sweetheart when Emma visits her to announce that Lord Ragsdale "dismiss" her services.

4. There is NO sexual tension. Nothing about "he loved her hair", nor "she was melting just by looking at his green eyes". It is NOT a romance story, and there are barely a few kisses.

Emma and John learn how to care for each other. First, they dislike each other because of their background. Then, they learn how to be friends. John wants to know what Emma is thinking, and he is worried about her welfare. The few times he is mean, he is embarrassed. The reader is not told when they fall in love; we just witness it, and it is not hard to imagine the why.

So why not the highest rate? Because of the last chapter. I feel like it was a bit rushed, and when I got to the last page, I was left with several "But what happened to...?" questions.

I loved, loved the book. I may change my rating in future days to a 5*, though. Carla Kelly is a wonderful writer.