Marrying Winterborne (Lisa Kleypas)

26242354Title: Marrying Winterborne

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Series: The Ravenels #2

Date: May 31, 2016

Blurb:

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

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Review Day! 

As promised, today we take on Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenel Series book 2, Marrying Winterborne. 

Not too many days ago I introduced this series when I reviewed book 1, Cold-Hearted Rake. Now I bring you the sequel, and what a joy it is. This book took me back to the good old times of Kleypas and filled me with hope of great things to come. Hopefully, the significantly higher quality will continue on to the rest of the books in this series, and Kleypas will keep on delivering Historical Romance jewels like this for a very, very long time.

The Ravenels’ next installment, Devil in Spring, hits shelves February 2017, and I for one am looking forward to it.   

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.lisakleypas.com

So, the review! ———-

 

Marrying Winterborne is a novel with many echoes. Frequent readers of Kleypas will find allusions to earlier novels by this author such as Secrets of a Summer Night, Tempt Me at Twilight, and Where Dreams Begin. The industrial tycoon who29475665 falls in love with the high-born lady is a strategy Kleypas has employed several
times during her career, and has always brought her success. This book is no different.

The main characters are Rhys Winterborne and Lady Helen Ravenel.

We met Rhys before during his foray into Cold-Hearted Rake. Rhys is the son of a small grocer of Wales, who, through his own effort and determination, grew his father’s business to a world-wide empire. He is ruthless, harsh and regards the aristocracy with cynicism due to the contempt they showed him while he was still poor. There are few gentlemanly traits about him, and he has no intention of changing. However, he happens to fall in love with Helen, a high-class lady if there was ever one, and this throws the ordered life of Rhys into chaos. Unlike other heroes in his same situation (see novels above), Rhys didn’t actually held the control of his attraction fro Helen. I liked that. Kleypas tends to give us really assured heroes that know how to manage the girls like little puppets. Rhys is not like that. At the beginning of the book he is frustrated, confused and bewildered by his own attraction, and these feelings only intensify as the book goes on. His vulnerability is both endearing and surprising, especially because he accepts it and shrugs it off early on, as something inevitable. It was not hard to like this character, to be honest, and I kept rooting for him the whole way because, despite the ruthlessness and roughness of his personality, there is never any doubt from the beginning that he loves Helen dearly and would never do anything to hurt her.     

Image result for marrying winterborneHelen, on the other hand, was not what I expected. I thought she was going to be the kind of shy bride that would evolve into a more assured wife as she realized her power over this really strong, really powerful man. And she did. However, she went further than that, developing a personality and a set of morals completely separate from her relationship with Rhys, which is rare in most Romance novels. Normally the leads evolve due to their respective influences on each other but Helen was able to separate herself as a character and make meaningful and important contributions to the plot, without having to rely on her fellow lead for this. Even though she never quite looses the shyness and sweetness we were introduced to during Cold-Hearted Rake, she is able to put these aside and find a moral code to guide her actions that sets the base for her personality. As a result, I ended up liking (and respecting her) as a single character, and not a part of the couple. Her determination to stay true to herself, even when it may cost her happiness and the love of her life, was really believable and gave the character a strength I had not seen in a Romance novel in a while. It made me think of other leading girls such as Eleanor Ramsay, from The Duke’s Perfect Wife, Christine Derrick from Slightly Dangerous, and Evangeline Jenner from Kleypas’ own Devil in Winter  

Marrying Winterborne is a magnificent new novel by Lisa Kleypas. It fills my heart with hope to know that our favorite authors as always still have a lot left in them to give, and this book is definitely an example of that. I, personally, will be counting the days until the release of Devil in Spring, so we can see what new Historical Romance delight this author will deliver to our doors.

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

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Cold-Hearted Rake (Lisa Kleypas)

24431358Title: Cold-Hearted Rake

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Series: The Ravenel’s #1

Date: October 27, 2015

Blurb:

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

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Review Day! 

This week I started reading the new series by one of my favorite Historical Romance authors: Lisa Kleypas! 

Those who have enjoyed series like The Wallflowers, The Hathaways and The Stokehurst among many others, will certainly know who this author is, and those who have not read them, should definitely give these series a try. Lisa Kleypas stands at the very top of the Historical Romance genre, and each one of her books is a delight of charming romance and great historical context.

Needless to say, the minute I learned that Kleypas had a new series out, I went for it at once, so today I bring you the review for the first book: Cold-Hearted Rake and later in the week we’ll take a look to book #2, Marrying Winterborne

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.lisakleypas.com

Image result for cold hearted rake

So, the review! ———-

The Ravenels Series takes place during the Victorian era, when England is is struggling with industrialization and most aristocrats are seeing their centuries worth of agricultural wealth dwindling away. Readers of Kleypas will be pleased to know that the story happens some 30 years after the events of The Wallflowers, and we are going to be seeing some of the beloved characters of that series take part in this one as well.

The main characters in the book are Devon Ravenel and Kathleen Ravenel, dowager countess of Trenear.25685080

Devon is a good character. He is bold, rakish, self-assured, enjoying the good things in life and refusing responsibilities as best as he can. However, things go awry for Devon when he is saddled with a (bankrupted) earldom and all this means: hundreds of tenants, thousands of acres of land, and four young ladies, all of whom depend on him to bring prosperity and security.
Needless to say, it is not an easy task. Devon takes on his new appointment with aplomb and does whatever he can to fulfill these responsibilities. I thought the transition from irresponsible rake to concerned lord was a little rushed and abrupt, but regardless of that, the change works for the better. Devon becomes a more likable character and of course, his new-found sense of honor comes a long way to endearing him to the lady of the house, Kathleen. Devon also has had a difficult childhood, somewhat dark not unlike those of other Kleypas heroes like Westcliff, Merripen and Nikolas Angelovsky. However, I would say this backstory was not exploited enough in his case, and it could have yielded far more interesting results if the author had brought it forward a little more.   

30653412Kathleen is our heroine. She is the young widow of the late earl, and, of course, she buts heads with Devon every step of the way when it comes to ruling the estate. Her impetuousness is meant to be conflicting and sparking, to create friction between the two leads, and it does. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to have a good base. At the beginning of the book Kathleen has been married for a really short time, so it makes no sense that she will react so viscerally to Devon’s actions. With Kathleen, she seems to go from an utter dislike of Devon to an ardent love, and again, the process is fairly abrupt. I have to confess I was not charmed by her character, because it seemed as too volatile and a little unfinished. Her interactions with Devon were good, but there were many rough edges to her characterization that did not quite make sense.

Overall, the story of Cold-Hearted Rake was enjoyable and easy to read. It has a good flow, good chemistry between the leads and the subplots introducing the secondary characters are all well-crafted and interesting enough to leave you wanting to know more. I don’t see this book becoming one of my favorites of Kleypas (she has a lot to choose from after all), but I concede it was a quick, and good read.

My rating:

3 stars

 

“One of Many”

 Not a book I particularly loved or hated. But not one I’m likely to come back to in the future either.

The Bride (Julie Garwood)

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancées, #1)Title: The Bride

Author: Julie Garwood

Series: Lairds’ Fiancées #1

Date: May 21, 2002

Blurb:

By the king’s edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jamie the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior’s spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her…forever.

But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against — an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie’s life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer her senses.

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Review Day! 

Another, another! 

Let’s make today’s an old one with this almost 15-years-old novel by New York Times Bestselling Author Julie Garwood.

No reader of Historical Romance that’s worth something hasn’t heard of this lady. She’s one of my favorites of the genre and her novels are always a joy to read. This particular one I had tucked in the bottom of my library and had forgotten about, until today. Foolish, truly foolish! Ms. Garwood has a gift for storytelling, and the story of The Bride has something for everyone. It’s funny, endearing, instructive, charming… the characters are well crafted and the world is colorful and complex, displaying the beauty of the Scottish Highlands in all its splendor.  

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.juliegarwood.com

So, the review! ———-

Welcome to the land of 12th Century England, and the wild Highlands of Scotland, ruled by the powerful warrior clans. Era of castles, swords and love.

I always love Highlander novels, because they have their own little world full of traditions and traits that are always enjoyable to learn. The Bride is no different. It introduces us to the proud Kincaids, a strong and prosperous clan that keeps a tight reign over their piece of the Highlands, and defends their home with fierce determination.

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancées, #1)The main characters in the book are Laird Alec Kincaid and Lady Jamie, daughter of Baron Jamison.

Alec is arrogant, cocky, used to always getting his way. He is a warrior who enjoys his own strength and has a very particular view of how things should be. He is a leader, first and foremost, with hundreds of men and women that depend on him, and with no time to worry about insignificant affairs. Such as a wife. I actually found his character quite endearing because through it all, Alec keeps telling himself he is in control, that things are done his way, and even when he ends up falling for his own wife (the horror!), it still because he decided to do it, because he wanted to from the beginning. Because of this silly trait of his nature, his arrogance is quite funny to behold. He is indeed strong, protective and a little bit dangerous, but that only adds to his charm when he does, or doesn’t do, things that could affect his wife’s feeling or takes care never to make her sad or hurt her. Of course, is not because he cares about her, but because her sadness or hurt would bother him.  

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees, #1)Jamie is far easier to understand. She is a kind, caring woman, used to taking care of others, who, despite the initial fear for her future, quickly accepts her conditions and commits herself to making her marriage work. I liked her outlook a lot. She is positive, driven and strong, willing to always try her best and look at things from a positive standpoint. She believes the only way to achieve a good marriage is by securing her husband’s love, and so, she gets to work on this goal with all her might. However, this doesn’t mean she won’t stand up to her man, and set him straight when the need arises. Truly she is quite the sweet character and as I read I couldn’t help but cheer for her (You go, girl!). She is one of those characters you are genuinely happy they got a happy ending.

I enjoyed the story of The Bride a lot. I enjoyed their bickering and their relationship, the way they slowly moved towards each other in a smooth, believable way. There were many funny moments, and many sweet moments, and the plot also has a bit of mystery and action thrown in, for those of you who like their romance with some kick. Truly an excellent exponent of the genre, and a compliment to you, Ms. Garwood, for bringing it to life.

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

The Wolf and the Dove (Kathleen E. Woodiwiss)

Title: The Wolf and the Dove

Author: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Series: 

Date: 1974

Blurb:

The Wolf

Noble Aislinn grieves as the Iron Wolf and his minions storm through her beloved Darkenwald. And she burns with malice for the handsome Norman savage who would enslave her. . .even as she aches to know the rapture of the conqueror’s kiss.

The Dove

For the first time ever, mighty Wulfgar has been vanquished – and by a bold and beautiful princess of Saxon blood. He must have the chaste, sensuous enchantress who is sworn to his destruction. And he will risk life itself to nurture with tender passion a glorious union born in the blistering heat of hatred and war.

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Review Day! 

Let’s make it a throwback, shall we?

Today I bring you an old one by late New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

The Wolf and the Dove is a Historical Medieval Romance. Taking place during the times of William the Conqueror (year 1066), it shows us the now almost legendary conflict between Saxony and Normandy for the control of England. I must say this is the first Woodiwiss book I’ve read, and only because it was dearly recommended. I had seen her name before but never actually got curious. Oh, boy, was I missing out!

Mrs. Woodiwiss knowledge of History and her narrative control and nothing short of masterful. I as I read, it felt like I was going through a specially detailed, specially interesting, specially amazing Encyclopedia that offered a colorful, three-dimensional version of a century long gone.

I love fiction books that can teach the reader (you should know, most of what I know about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo comes from Regency novels!) and this author has gone above and beyond in that sense.     

More information, visit the author’s wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_E._Woodiwiss

 

So, let’s see it! ———-

This book presents us with an England ravaged by war. As Normandy invades and Duke William advances to take his crown, Saxony slowly falls under the onslaught, and the Saxon lords are given the option to either yield or die against the power of the fierce invaders. Elderly Lord Erland of Darkenwald meets the intruders head on when they threaten his holding, and enraged by their unreasonable and cruel demands, he stands against them to defend his home.

His death leaves his wife and young daughter, as well as the poor souls of Darkenwald at the mercy of a cruel, vindictive Norman knight named Ragnor de Marte.

But not all is lost. Because Ragnor is not to be the new Lord of Darkenwald. No, Duke William has promised these lands to another of his loyal vassals: a mighty warrior known as the Iron Wolf.

The main characters in The Wolf and the Dove are Wulfgar and Aislinn.

Wulfgar is a Norman knight serving William the Conqueror. Scorned because of his bastardous birth, he is mocked by other noble knights in William’s army, even as he is feared by these same knights because of his battle prowess. He values loyalty over all, rewards good deeds handsomely and punishes mistakes harshly. I would say he is a great example of what a medieval lord would be: he is a warrior but also a leader, and knows the value of good service, he doesn’t kill when there is no need, and although he does not seek war, he is ready to face it and is never unprepared. Intelligent, strong and calculating, Wulfar is aloof and unattached, with a manifested hatred towards women. That, of course, until he meets Aislinn.

Aislinn is an interesting character. The daughter of the deceased Lord Erland, she gets to see her father being murdered, her home ravaged and her mother beaten by the Norman soldiers. Her rape on the hands of the same man who murdered his father is the ultimate humiliation in her eyes. This causes her to develop a scorching hatred for them, but what I found interesting is that the emotion is not forefront for her. Sure, she is resented and bitter, but she doesn’t let the emotion cloud her judgement. She doesn’t attack the knights or tries to take revenge. As she sees her house being taken by her enemies and her people being forced into servitude, she doesn’t come with some nefarious and subtle (naive and stupid) plan to right the wrongs. Instead, she accepts her circumstances with philosophy while trying to make the best she can of a bad situation. It surprised me because I’ve seen several Historical Romance heroines who always get incredibly flustered and spend hours musing about revenge and justice, and blah, blah, blah… Reading about Aislinn I realized that that is exactly the way a real woman in her position would’ve acted. These women live with war every day and they know what it entails, they know that one day they can be the victors, and the next day they can be on the losing side. Accepting what can’t be changed and trying to get past it and build a good life is all they can do to take control of their destiny.


Aislinn’s strength and her common sense was a pleasant surprise indeed. Of course,
this doesn’t mean she didn’t fight every step of the way against Wulfgar.

The relationship between these two was one I liked a lot. In private they were bickering and fighting savagely, one for control, the other for freedom. But in public they presented a united front, two against the world and for those who needed them. The relationship is all about compromising, about shedding one’s shields and accepting the other person, including the way they can hurt you if they please. These two characters have been taught not to trust others the hard way, and they must re-learn their lessons if they want to make it work. The whole process was bumpy and complicated and also totally believable. Seeing this two come together and go from sworn enemies to loving couple was very enjoyable for me.

 

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!