I was very excited to pick up my copy of Marrying Winterborne because Lisa Kleypas was one of the first romance writers that I read when I first got into the genre a few years ago. I also enjoyed, Cold-Hearted Rake, the first book in the series, so I couldn’t wait to keep going with the Ravenel sisters.
Heroine: After growing up on a secluded estate away from London society, the Ravenel sisters are innocent. Helen, the eldest, is definitely more practical than her younger sisters, but growing up without the influence of London society has left her super shy. Unfortunately, I did not find her personality to be super memorable. However, I did enjoy that she is an avid orchid enthusiast. Helen inherited nearly 200 orchids from her late mother. She is the only one out of her siblings to take interest in the laborious task of caring for the plants. She is well-versed in all the different species of orchids and all of their special attributes. Her green thumb is one of the few traits that made her stand out.
Hero: Unlike most novels, Rhys Winterborne is not an aristocrat. He is a self-made man—a phenomenon that starts to emerge during this time period. Rhy’s backstory is fascinating: he grew up as a Welsh grocer’s son and transformed himself into one of the most successfull businessmen in the country. Rhys owns a booming department store that revolutionized the way people shopped. Before the rise of the department store, people were not able to buy so many different items under one roof. I really enjoyed reading about a department store can change people’s lifestyles.
Unfortunately, I had a love/hate relationship with Rhys. I never warmed up to him completely because I was turned off by some aspects of his personality. I found Rhys’s possessiveness to be overbearing. His possessiveness sometimes made him think irrationally and rashly. For example, he kept pressuring Helen to elope, even though she stressed that she wanted a proper wedding with her family. However, I really do admire his ambitions and his respectable business practices.
Supporting Cast: The Ravenel sisters are such a delight to read about, especially the twins, Pandora and Cassandra. They are a foil to Helen’s serious countenance. I’m looking forward to reading their stories in the future.
Romance: A lot of initial courting happens in Cold-Hearted Rake, the first book of the series. This is one of those romances where it’s important to read the books in sequential order. Marrying Winterborne skips a lot of the courting and the romance moves fast. It’s not really a spoiler to say that Helen and Rhys get engaged at the very beginning of the novel. So for me, it was a downer that there was no unresolved sexual tension. Helen and Rhys have chemistry, but the love story was not the most fun thing to read about.
Plot: In terms of plot, it doesn’t get exciting until halfway through the book. Helen discovers a secret that could ruin her engagement. She is blackmailed into silence, but she feels guilty from keeping it from Rhys. I enjoyed the unraveling of Helen’s secret and I was kept turning pages to find out what would happen. I wished that the plot had developed a little bit earlier in the book so the conclusion didn’t feel as rushed.
Overall, I thought that Marrying Winterborne had a lot of potential, but it just fell short of my expectations. I wish that the romance had been less anti-climactic. I really enjoyed reading about Rhys’s department store, and I look forward to the rest of the series.
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Summary: 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 hi
m with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable…the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne
Disclaimer: I received this ARC free of charge through a friend.