Published by Avon on May 31st 2016
“I can’t be a gentleman,” he said hoarsely. “Not even for you.”
“You don’t have to be a gentleman. Only gentle.”
FINAL DECISION: Absolutely and completely adored Rhys, who might be one of my all time favorite Kleypas heroes. I knocked down the rating a bit because I didn’t like Helen as much and became somewhat annoyed by her keeping secrets from Rhys. Regardless, I overall enjoyed the book very much and look forward to the next in the series.
THE STORY: Rhys Winterborne is a Welsh commoner who has managed to create an business empire for himself. To complete his triumph he only needs an aristocratic wife to give him an entry into society. Everything is going well with his engagement to Lady Helen Ravenel until their brief engagement is called off by Helen after their first kiss. Then Rhys is surprised when Helen comes to him to plead with him to continue their engagement. The gentle and quiet Lady Helen Ravenel seems a mismatch for the brash Rhys but something about him attracts her. She knows that she does not want to end their engagement although he overwhelms her. Helen scandalously comes to Rhys alone and is willing to do scandalous things in order to ensure their marriage. As she falls for Rhys, however, Helen realizes that she has a secret that might destroy any chance they have together.
OPINION: I would read this book again for no other reason that Rhys is so wonderful. A self-made man who has the arrogance and determination required to be so, Rhys is also forwarding thinking, willing to adapt and change and take risks. Incredibly supportive, understanding and really willing to do anything for Helen, I simply adored him. What surprised me and endeared him to me most was his reaction once he discovered Helen’s secret. Who could resist a man like that?
For me, the weakness of this book is Helen. She begins as a product of tradition and the stuffy aristocracy, but seems willing to break the chains in order to be with Rhys. Then he proceeds to keep secrets from him (which obviously will not be able to be kept secret) and fails to trust in him. My annoyance with her grew as she takes bigger and bigger risks but won’t tell Rhys the truth. (In comparison, Rhys is a saint). It felt to me that she only revealed the truth when there was no other option rather than trusting in Rhys’ love for her.
I very much enjoyed this book and would read it again, but my reaction to Helen keeps this from being an instant classic for me.
WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, oh I can’t wait for the next book of the series. The preview for the next book gets 5 stars.
CONNECTED BOOKS: MARRYING WINTERBORNE is the second book of the Ravenels series. Because the relationship between Rhys and Helen begins in the first book of the series, it is better to read that book first.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.
UPDATE Feb 2018: I’ve given this book a 5 star review on re-read. Sometimes expectations of books can impact me when I read. This was one of those books. It didn’t go in the direction I expected from the reviews I had read and thus I was a bit deflated upon the first reading. Reading it a couple years later, I found that I found a subtlety of the relationship between Helen and Rhys that I really loved this time around. Also, the secrets in the story felt less forced this time. I truly loved this book this time around.