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…
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.
I’ve read and loved Kleypas’ work in the past but this book fell flat for me. Soggy pancake flat.
First, though, the good:
- The writing is on par with the rest of her work, and I can’t find any fault with the words themselves.
- There was enough information to jog my memory about the couple, who had a lot of goings on in the first book of the series. It could probably even be read alone.
- Rhys is romantic, the sex scenes are hot, and if you’re into period detail it’s here (“each glove is so delicate, it can be enclosed in the shell of a walnut”).
- The secondary characters are fleshed out wonderfully, especially the women working for Winterborne. I want them to get their own books, too.
- The whole plot revolves around a secret Helen has, one she finds out maybe a quarter of the way through the novel. Everyone says not to tell Rhys – he would never forgive her! Don’t throw away your chance at marriage! But the reader knows he will forgive her on the spot. And he does. So angst yes, conflict not so much.
- Likewise there’s a plot twist near the end that was meant to raise the stakes but only raised my hackles instead.
- Rhys has no faults as far as I can see. Yes, he’s common born, but that lets him be progressive and alpha and endearing to modern readers. He’s rich so Helen’s family is happy about the marriage. Winterborne is also loving and protective, hates the people you would expect him to hate, and takes care of the people he loves. He’s perfect… and pretty boring.
- There isn’t anything wrong with Helen, either. She’s dreadfully shy to start but it’s more of a feature than a bug.
So while the beginning was enjoyable I had to force myself to finish the last half of the book. Weak conflict, a flawless hero and heroine… not much reason to read. Le sigh. I’ll still read the next book at some point, though, because Pandora.