Here’s the deal: I like my romance novels pretty simplistic. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, conflicts ensue to prevent main couple from being together–societal inequalities, unrealistic expectations, secrets from his or her past (though I prefer “his” secrets), conniving frenemies. These are the basics I enjoy.
All of these elements are in Marry Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas…and I still didn’t like it that much. Once again, I was taken out of the romance by a subplot that was murky while being too convenient. Clear as mud, right?
I don’t want to give too much away because this book only came out today, officially.
Here’s what I will say: When Winterborne and Helen are together, the book is lovely. The first few chapters will have you fanning yourself because of the tension between the two characters. Also, Kleypas knows how to write tension and sex scenes without coming across as cheesy and trite. The romance is engaging, and the main love interests are delightful.
It’s when she veers off the course of the main romance between Rhys Winterborne and Lady Helen Ravenel that I find the book to be boring and difficult. Like, I’m not sure I care about Winterborne’s interest in a tenement in London and his contemplation of that purchase, although I will admit it brings in an uninteresting hatred of some RANDOM DUDE who turns out to be NOT SO RANDOM–which is the main conflict in this novel. But this conflict isn’t even introduced until page 162. Honestly, I thought the book was going to end soon because everything seemed locked up with Winterborne and Helen early on.
So, the CONFLICT. It wasn’t interesting. Helen thinks that something that she had nothing to do with from the past, but is a result of, is something that will put an end to her engagement to Winterborne. Ummm, does she not see how the guy can’t be apart from her? He shows up out of the blue with passionate I-CAN’T-BE-PARTED-FROM-YOU-FOR-LONG kisses, and she still fears telling him the truth. It’s silly, especially considering how strong she seems before this hem-hawing on whether to tell Winterborne the truth.
And here’s another issue: She, and everyone else, claims she so malleable and agreeable, but she’s really not. She stands up for what she wants; she just does it in a quiet way that is different from the rest of her rambunctious family members. This strength entices Winterborne, especially since he seems to be one of the few who sees it. I loved Helen, honestly. She’s a great heroine, strong without being pushy and whiny, a lady without being judgmental, and compassionate without losing who she is in caring for others.
And Winterborne! He was great! I totally saw why she fought to reinstate their engagement that her sister-in-law, Kathleen (from Cold-Hearted Rake), broke without her permission. Rhys Winterborne is smart, kind, generous, and protective, while still being ruthless when he needs to be, and he loves Helen to distraction. What’s not to love?
I feel like there was a missed opportunity here. I loved Helen and Winterborne in Cold-Hearted Rake; in fact, as I stated in my review of that book, they were almost the only thing I liked about the first novel in this series. However, this book did not do them justice. NOT. AT. ALL. One problem was that Helen and Winterborne’s relationship was pretty cemented early on, and only an additional (unbelievable and convenient) conflict added later could make it seem like there was some potential for dissolution of the relationship.
It would have been more believable if another man who was Helen societal equal entered the picture and caused Winterborne to doubt where he stood. Or maybe Kleypas should have kept Helen and Winterborne’s engagement off until the middle of the book, instead of resolving it at the beginning. Enter two of my favorite plot devices: Jealousy and insecurity on the part of the hero. (I know. I’m awful. But seriously, most romance heroes are so arrogant and alpha they can handle, sometimes even deserve, a little insecurity and jealousy!)
Anyway, this turned into another disappointment in my romance reading, my dears. Maybe I should read some young adult or literary fiction for a while to let my disappointment of the latest romance crop ebb.
We’ll see. I doubt I could go long without a romance novel! 🙂 Oh, well, until next time, my friends, I hope you enjoy your romance reading!