Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.
Everything except her . . .
Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.
When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:
Never underestimate a Ravenel.
The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun. . . .
This book filled my heart. It overflows with joy. I cannot contain the emotions – all positive – exploding inside me. Chasing Cassandra is a wonderful conclusion to this series. I might even like it more than Pandora‘s book, and that’s saying something. So I’ve read Lisa Kleypas since I first started reading romances in the early 00s and she’s one of my favorite authors from historical to contemporary romances. I was a bit apprehensive before reading the book, worried my expectations might be too high, as I knew it’s the last of the series, I’ve loved Tom Severin in his cameos, and I wanted so much for Cassandra to have the best happily ever after.
The depth of Cassandra‘s character is amazing. She seems so simple – like fluff. To even most of her family, who all love her dearly. But the thing is, Cassandra is a happy, pleasant woman. However, she had a steel core. She hasn’t minded being in the background in the cast of such vibrant members of her family, but she’s also always known what she’s wanted. To marry a man she loves and loves her in return. It’s as simple and complex as that. Cassandra is also kind. She’s willing to take people as they are, but also encourage them to be their best selves. She’s the perfect fit for Tom. I liked that Cassandra was so aware of how bound she was by social rules and norms, but also that she wasn’t prissy about it. She generally follows the rules but also indulges in bouts of “acting out” – she is Pandora’s twin and I liked that Cassandra underlined to her family that sometimes she was the instigator.
Tom is a delight. I adore smitten heroes. I admit I had minute concern when he was so taken without knowing her – but I liked that he … “proposed [to be her oyster]” without even seeing her. (This isn’t a spoiler, it happens within the first few pages.) However, he fights it. He’s contrary and difficulty and much better than even his friends give him credit for. Even better than he gives himself credit for, despite his arrogance. I wish he’d listed his “five emotions.” Tom quickly realizes there’s so much depth to Cassandra. Her looks are what attracted him in the first interaction, but by the second he was taken by her person. He realizes she’ll entangle him emotionally, and tries to avoid her but can’t forget her. Tom is her hero over and over again. It’s a subtle but lovely courtship. And my god – their “contract” negotiations. I was so entertained. I think Tom might be on the spectrum somewhere – however there’s also the trauma of his past, the multiple layers of it, and how he’s willfully emotionally stunted to protect himself. Then also being such a rich genius, he doesn’t have to observe social niceties to flatter or appease people generally. He definitely has his flaws – and has made mistakes. He apologizes for some of them, and is a work in progress.
There’s so much humor in this book – often subtle. While much of it is lighthearted there are important themes. Reputation, what society believes despite reality, poverty, technology… The hilarity of when Tom first approaches Devin then West about Cassandra, and then his total 180. He really does try to avoid her, the dear – but he’s already so stupid in love. It just made me happy. He’s so attuned to her.
It took me around three hours to read and I was enthralled. I never wanted to put it down. I loved – I wouldn’t call them “cameos” as I normally would because the presence of the previous/secondary characters were an integral part of the story. But they were the threads weaving together to move the story and relationship forward. They never distracted or took from Cassandra and Tom, which I very much appreciated. Cassandra is clear from the start that her goal is a love match in her marriage. Tom comes around rather quickly, but not obviously. He’s recalcitrant. But when he talks about the infinity symbol – I think even the hardest heart would melt.
There was quite a focus on Cassandra’s weight – I think it wasn’t actually extraneous, she’s very curvy and something that happens in the book is because she’s so voluptuous. While she has gained weight, here’s the thing – it’s not that big a change. She’s gained about 14 lbs, but can still wear all her same clothes. Of course they’re a bit tighter – but I think some people don’t realize like, yes it’s a lot but at the same time not that much. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice it. She’s a beautiful, shapely woman. I get her concern with her weight, and I love what Tom says to her about him not caring.
I have to share some quotes I loved.
“Not for the first time, Tom reflected there was no understanding women. It wasn’t that they were illogical. Just the opposite. Their logic was of a higher order, too complex and advanced to submit to a complete proof calculus. Women assigned mysterious values to details a man would overlook, and were able to draw piercing conclusions about his innermost secrets. Tom suspected that Cassandra, after their handful of encounters, had already acquired a more thorough knowledge of him than his friends of more than a decade. More troubling still was the suspicion she understood things about him even he wasn’t aware of.”
Speaking of their contract negotiations. Cassandra says she wants a dog – that it’s a necessity to her, and she’s listing reasons why she wants one. Then this:
“I want a companion who’ll go on walks with me, and sit on my lap while I pet him.”
“You’ll have me for that.”
Cassandra pointed to the contract. “Dog,” she insisted. “I’m afraid it’s nonnegotiable.”
I re-read the book to write this review, and while I wasn’t the exuberant explosion of joy the second time around, I definitely enjoyed it again and still, and can see myself re-reading it more times. I think people who enjoy Lisa Kleypas’s books will like this one as well, and I’d say confidently this is one of my favorite books in the series. (Pandora’s story is still my favorite, but Cassandra’s a close second.) I loved seeing Tom and Cassandra fall in love, and the journey of the others. It’s a lovely, fun romance and a great conclusion to the series.