Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas is a Victorian historical romance that I would argue breaks the rules of historical romance. Here’s why.
We meet Mr. Winterborne, the owner of the majestic London department store of the same name, in Cold-Hearted Rake, the first book in the Ravenels series. We watch the sparks fly between Winterborne and Helen, the cousin of his friend, Devon, the new Earl of Trenear.
When I read Cold-Heart Raked I immediately purchased Marrying Winterborne and proceeded to read the entire Amazon Look Inside impatiently waiting for my paperback to arrive.
Winterborne’s brutish qualities clashed wildly with Helen’s quiet and innocent character, and I was left salivating, wondering what happens next. These two are the perfect set up for a historical romance in an opposites attract way. But that’s where the historical romance rules end.
The thing about Lisa Kleypas’s Ravenels series is that it steps ever so delicately outside the historical romance footprint. The Ravenels are forward thinking aristocrats facing the end of an era. They negotiate leases with railroads and marry men in trade because the aristocracy is dying, and the titled must find a way to survive.
In years past, the historical romance genre has eschewed any mention of the eventual deterioration of the titled class in favor of the romanticized version of it. Kleypas does no such thing.
The Ravenels are fresh, exciting, and my favorite of all, living in a time period of abrupt and expansive change, embracing new technologies and social norms.
I find the Ravenels series to be Kleypas at her best in both plot and character development.
And this from someone who will forever argue that Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is the perfect historical romance hero.
Rhys and Helen
Rhys, the hero, is Welsh, low born, and works in trade. (*gasp!*) Helen is the daughter of an earl, has a courtesy title, and is the very epitome of the word innocent.
What drew me to this unlikely pairing was how each defied my expectations. I’ve read historical romances with an innocent heroine before, and I’ve mostly found them to be simpering and shy. Helen is not. While she is unschooled and somewhat cautious, it doesn’t stop her from taking what she wants. The very premise of this historical romance novel stems from the fact that she wishes to marry Winterborne, and through her former sister-in-law’s meddling, the engagement is broken. Helen strikes out to win Winterborne back.
And that’s just the opening of the book!
I think I’ve fallen victim to the sometimes crass but lovable heroes that have been popular of late (think Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes). When Rhys was first presented, I thought this would be more of the same, but it’s decidedly not. Rhys is warm and caring and thoughtful even if his character seems larger than life.
He is downright swoon-worthy, guys.
Who Should Read Marrying Winterborne
If you love:
- Opposites attract romance
- Victorian time period fraught with technological change and social upheaval
- Historical romance that steps outside the norms in terms of expectations of heroes and heroines (à la Jennifer McQuiston)
Marrying Winterbourne is the historical romance for you.
Marrying Winterbourne was high stakes, fast paced, and dripping with the best historical romance has to offer. I’ve already queued up the rest of the series in my library app and can’t wait to discover of the rest the Ravenels have to offer.