Marrying Winterborne, by Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas's Marrying Winterborne is a massive step up from the first book in her Ravenels series, but it still falls short of her best work. It feels like a throwback to the romance novels of my teen years—books that relied on far-fetched, telenovela-style plot twists, rather than more realistic (and, to me, more interesting) interpersonal conflicts.

Marrying Winterborne is the story of Lady Helen Ravenel, a shy girl from a family of outsized personalities. In the previous installment of the Ravenels series, Helen was briefly engaged to Rhys Winterborne, a rich, ruthless tycoon. The engagement was largely for financial reasons (Helen's family is poor, and Rhys needs her title to move up in society), although the two were clearly attracted to one another. Their betrothal was called off by Helen's concerned family, but in this novel Helen announces that she still wants to marry Rhys. Unfortunately, their burgeoning relationship is suddenly faced with a fresh complication: an unexpected link between Helen and Rhys's arch-enemy.

My favorite Kleypas novel is Secrets of a Summer Night, which focuses on the relationship between a gently-bred but impoverished young woman and her wealthy industrialist suitor, who comes from a middle-class family. In addition to being a wildly entertaining romance, the book explores the culture clashes that take place between two people who have grown up in different strata in a very class-conscious society. Marrying Winterborne touches on many of the same issues, but the plot centers around the Dark Secret in the heroine's past. She spends most of the book terrified the hero will find out... and he finally does. [SPOILER: And then everything is fine!] Don't get me wrong: Marrying Winterborne is entertaining and well-written, but I wish Kleypas had focused more of her energy on the personal differences between her central couple, rather than hinging 99% of their troubles on an outside threat that ultimately turns out to be powerless.
Posted by: Julianka


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