Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
Avon Romance / May 31, 2016 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital
A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better...
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable . . . the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Helen and Winterborne stole the show in Cold-Hearted Rake, Lisa Kleypas’ family-centric return to historical romance, particularly Avon historicals, after years away. And in the second of the new Ravenels series, Marrying Winterborne, their story is brimming with romance, dazzling with details, and nuanced with depth and delight alike, as only she’s known for. Prepare for a new Lisa Kleypas classic.
About that beginning, Rhys and Helen captured our attention in the previous book when, while recuperating from a terrible accident, Rhys is brought to recover through the holidays at the Ravenel estate, as a friend of her cousin’s. Only he’s an unruly beast who roars at servants and the family, but it’s Helen who walks into the lion’s den and is somehow able to soothe him. From there, there was something unspeakable about the unlikely pair. A marriage of convenience plot hatched by her family to give her a future and him a respectable name to go with his massive wealth is spun. But their connection began even before that, and that’s where the magic for them lies.
With the return to her historical roots, Kleypas is both revisiting remnants of the past and making new strides. The language here is more visceral, and whether it’s a deadly train derailment or a building collapse, with smarmy villains and kept secrets, it all harkens back to the days Kleypas promised in setting up the series: grander plots and sweeping emotion, and breathtaking romance. She puts her own unique touch on every proceeding, from the outrageous “The Mansions of Happiness” board game (a harsher version of our time’s “The Game of Life,” it seems) to Mr. Winterborne’s beloved peppermint creams, making us fall in love with even the little things to be found here.
And let’s talk about Winterborne’s, the magnificent, grandiose department store that’s made our hero so famous. From the bookshop to the apothecary to the toys and many ladies’ items, every minute spent in the store is a treat, both for our characters and for us. It’s a world we glimpse with awe and envy, with an enormous staff to answer any call and address every whim, where anything can be attained and the sky’s almost literally the limit. Even better, from the moment that Winterborne becomes as mutually taken with Helen as she is with him—that it happens for them both naturally because of those initial days spent together at his sickbed without games or contrivances is a welcome surprise—he’s determined to use all of his many influences to serve her.
“Let me give this to you.” Taking her left hand, he began to slide the moonstone onto her finger, and hesitated. “How did I propose the first time?” He had been nervous, steeling himself for a possible refusal; he could hardly remember a word he’d said.
Amusement tugged at her lips. “You laid out the advantages on both sides, and explained the ways in which our future goals were compatible.”
Rhys absorbed that with chagrin. “No one has ever accused me of being a romantic,” he said ruefully.
“If you were, how would you propose?”
He thought for a moment. “I would begin by teaching you a Welsh word. Hiraeth. There’s no equivalent in English.”
“Hiraeth,” she repeated, trying to pronounce it with a tapped R, as he had.
“Aye. It’s a longing for something that was lost, or never existed. You feel it for a person or a place, or a time in your life… it’s a sadness of the soul. Hiraeth calls to a Welshman even when he’s closest to happiness, reminding him that he’s incomplete.”
Her brow knit with concern. “Do you feel that way?”
“Since the day I was born.” He looked down into her small, lovely face. “But not when I’m with you. That’s why I want to marry you.”
The marriage theme runs happily throughout, but there’s heaps more that enriches the palate. If it seems that Rhys Winterborne is actually quite romantic and that a sheltered, innocent Helen is suddenly bold in her affections for him, it’s believable because it stems from those powerful early days, where something real happened between them. They each have an imperfect past, but that allows them to see beyond society’s trappings and expectations and set new ones of their own. Rhys’s protectiveness is made larger by all of his resources and influence, but it’s never overbearing, just loving in that alpha male way. Helen stands her ground when she needs to and is a supportive partner always. Somehow they are exactly what the other needs, in the last person they probably ever expected to find it.
And by the way, it’s appropriately titled. After all, for Helen and Rhys, it isn’t about the wedding; the whole of the book is building, strengthening, and leading to a marriage. And the one they get is wholly deserved.
Learn more about or order a copy of Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas, available May 31, 2016:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.