Lisa Kleypas was my gateway drug to straight romance back in the day. My sister gifted me a book of hers, I'd just finished the Fever series and thought that a fluffly romance would be a good palate cleanser after Mac and Barrons. Little did I know that I'd fall into a trance that would lead me through stacks of hundreds in the same vein.
Over the years, there have been standout books that have made me laugh (a couple of Tessa Dare's books come to mind) and a few that have made me cry (Sherry Thomas' "Not Quite a Husband", in particular, made me want to drown myself in a good bourbon and I'm still not sure I've recovered) but many, many that have just passed the time. In itself, that's certainly not a fault, but anymore I need something a little specific to really dazzle me.
Kleypas' return to historical romance has delivered, and with her second book in The Ravenel seres, I couldn't be more pleased.
Rhys Winterborne is a very successful Welshman. He was a member of the working class who has been smart, exacting and tireless in accomplishing his wealth and reputation, always looking for an opportunity to rise above the position of his birth. He'll never be a gentleman, but he'd like to be recognized among them as an equal.
When we meet him in Cold-Hearted Rake, the book previous, he is severely injured and waylaid in the Ravenel household, tended by the shy and almost painfully unassuming oldest Ravenel daughter, Helen. Of course, the brash, large and rough Welshman is a magnet for the sweet, unworldly Helen. Opposites attract. Classic Yin and Yang. And because Helen is the daughter of an Earl, marrying her would gain him entry into many parlors that he would otherwise be excluded.
The overall feeling about Marrying Winterborne is that it should be savored rather than ravishingly consumed. We spend most of the time uncovering secrets of the family and getting to know Helen who shows a steely resolve and strength in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. There is also a fair amount of interplay between the rest of the Ravenel's, scenes with the spunky twins Cassandra and Pandora (their books are going to be explosive, right?!), revisiting Devon and Kathleen and giving Lady Berwick some spotlight, along with the introduction of several new characters, most notably of those, Dr. Garrett Gibson.
It's within these more plodding pages that showcase some of Kleypas' strength - her
unmissable dedication to research. There are so many little nuggets of Victorian living from fashion to medicine to food and politics. She uses the department store of Winterborne's as an excellent foil to really paint of picture of the time.
With the certain wedding between Rhys and Helen, their courtship were the pages that I flew through. Rhys delivers a few scenes that had me positively melting into a puddle on the floor, while Helen was the perfect picture of someone who deserves everything and certainly deserves all devotion and dedication that Rhys was made for. They're truly a wonderful match.
I loved the story with it's small amount of angst and large amount of heart.
P.S. For fans of Klepas...the teaser for Devil in Spring should NOT be missed, though the title itself is a delicious clue.