25 June, 2016

Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas #BookReview

Marrying Winterborne

Pages -  416 pages
Publisher-  Avon
Published -  May 31, 2016
Sold by -  HarperCollins Publishers
Amazon -  Buy Link
Genre -  Victorian, Romance
Series -  The Ravenels #2
Sexual Content -  4/5
Language -  a few F-bombs


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…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne


Well, it was certainly a better, more entertaining read than the first book in this series.

And, after a lovely HEA, we're privileged to read a tiny excerpt from Book #3 in which Evie and Sebastian make an appearance!

Wallflower Series #3, Devil in Winter

They are now grandparents, married 30 years, and it is their son who is involved in a scandal with Pandora, Helen's younger sister (a twin to Cassandra).

Now I can't wait for #3 to come out!

Back to #2 -- Rhys and Helen's story.

Helen is the quiet, ladylike one of the three Ravenel sisters, but like the younger twins, she has no dowry to make her eligible to attend The Seasons like other ladies of her ilk.

But Helen is already smitten with Rhys Winterborne, a self-made Welshman whom Devon, Lord Ravenel, had seen fit to encourage a betrothal with his cousin prior to the Hematite discovery and subsequent windfall that made Devon incredibly wealthy.

Rhys, the owner of the World's Largest Department Store, and a man of many means, is also captivated by the fair-haired beauty with her winsome charms and a questionable title.

Rhys is as tall, dark, and handsome as a man ought to be, loaded with sinew and muscle, unruly dark locks, and blue eyes (or were they brown? I think a switch-a-roo occurred here) that seem fathomless each time he gazes into Helen's pale blue depths.

Still, he's common-born and Welsh, two strikes against a man wanting to bite off more than he should ever be allowed to chew, as it were.

Devon doesn't care, of course, being a rebel and a rake himself, and very good friends with Winterborne when he invites the self-made billionaire to his new home in the country for Christmas.

When Rhys and Helen's story picks up in book two, Rhys has dared to kiss her, frightening the reclusive virgin so that she ends up in bed with a migraine.

This alarms Kathleen, Devon's new bride, and so Kathleen dares to confront Winterborne inside his office at the massive department store, informing him that he is no longer welcome and that Helen has broken off the engagement.

Rhys already assumed as much, mistaking Helen's rejection of his advances as a sign of her disinterest in a man of his lowly station.

He propositions Kathleen at the exact moment Devon arrives to save his new bride from such a compromise and threatens to kill Rhys if he so much as looks at Helen or Kathleen.

But then Helen recovers, reconsiders her foolishness, and slips away from Devon's London manor house to face Rhys with a proposition of her own.

Rhys is both glad and upset to see her there, alone and in a single man's apartment (office), and once the misunderstanding is cleared up, he listens as Helen suggests that Rhys compromise her good so that they must marry -- which she assumes will clear up a lot of the confusion as well as affording her the newfound freedom she now craves.

Rhys agrees to the plan, but insists that the deed be done right then and there, and that they marry within the week or all bets are off.

Helen is still in mourning after the death of her older brother, and she counters with a June wedding instead.

Rhys disagrees and starts to back away from the plan when Helen entices him, asking him to teach her how to kiss, how to fondle, and to be fondled in a way that would please him and make her less inclined to flinch or blush.

It sounds silly but was actually rather cute when read.

If you haven't read this yet and plan to, don't be like me and become discouraged when more than a few chapters take place inside Rhys office.

The Proposition scene was lengthy, and I began to wonder if the two would ever leave that place to go somewhere else, mingle with other people, or if the entire story would occur inside those two, adjacent rooms!

So, right away we have the two leads in a sexually explicit situation, which some reviewers claimed was a bit too much for the time period and with not enough cat/mouse to make it a true romance.

It was also mentioned that the lack of romantic tension (one reviewer went so far as to speak for us all by saying "WE read romance for the tension / build-up.") ruined the expected excitement of reading a new Kleypas novel.

Personally, I read for the escape/entertainment value and NOT because I expect cat & mouse prior to kiss & tell.

If an author chooses to go against the grain, buck convention, and try something new to counter the formulaic norm, I'm all for it!

In its place, Rhys especially, and then later in the story Helen, go through plenty of tough scenarios and rough patches to make up for the lack of homespun, run-of-the-mill type romance.

In exchange for that formulaic style of Historical Romance fare, Marrying Winterborne is filled with magic, mayhem, mystery, and scandal, not to mention a few interesting asides that include the first-ever female doctor in London, the deplorable conditions of orphanages at the time, and a bit more about the changing of the guard, so to speak, with regard to Nobility vs Working Class.

So, THANK YOU, Lisa, for offering to switch things up a bit and make the story more inventive and exciting . . . for me at least.

I also felt that both Helen and Rhys were completely and imaginatively developed so that their attraction to one another made sense.

The negative reviews about this ALMOST made me think that the people doing the complaining are trying to compare this with Contemporary Romance in which the h MUST despise the H, with the first half of the story dedicated to that disinterest.

If you are that intent on reading reality-based fiction, ask yourself how many couples you know who truly started out loathing one another before eventually coming around.

Sure, it makes for some interesting reading and a need-to-know how it all turns out, but not ALL the time.

I sometimes prefer to read (and write) about instant attraction that runs into a brick wall, backs itself up with dumbfounded surprise, and then slowly proceeds with caution, and at a new, more enlightened pace.

Very rare, but there you have it.

And, excuse me, but Rhys Winterborne was about as all-male, semi-Alpha as they come!

Rhys Winterborne was SMOKIN'

Also, there were a few aside characters who kept cropping up: two especially -- Tom Severin, whom I'm still undecided about liking, but captivated by and interested in nonetheless, and Ransom (oh, my!) a private bodyguard (VERY curious about that unidentifiable accent of his) whom Rhys hires to secretly protect Helen and her sisters when and if they decide to run amok in Londontown.

In all honesty, though, I'm still looking forward to reading Weston's love story.

Unlike the first in this series, this second book concentrated solely on Rhys and Helen, their misfortunes, stumbling blocks, and secrets so that West, Devon, and Kathleen only appeared once near the beginning and then again at the very end.

Lady Berwick arrived, and I have to say she read a lot like Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the 1940 movie version of Pride & Prejudice.

Not that that's a bad thing.

My biggest complaint is that it seems Lisa has jumped on the F-bomb bandwagon and has begun to insert them throughout the text.

Not happy with that decision and hope it fades instead of increases.

Also, the editor should be fired.

Not sure what these people make for a living, but more and more we are forced to endure the slipshod, half-assed 'finished product' being published by major houses that is as deplorable as a lot of the Indie work on the market.

Unacceptable to my mind.

If you're being paid to do the job of editing/proofreading, then do the damn job!

This second novel read more like a Kleypas novel than the first, and as I already mentioned, I'm really looking forward to the third.

That excerpt!

Wow. Just . . . wow.

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