Lady Helen Ravenel has lived a very sheltered existence on her family’s estate and spent much of her life in mourning for one family member or another. Until very recently, the estate was so deeply mired in debt that Helen and her younger sisters were unlikely to have any dowries and it was very important that Helen and her sisters marry rich men. The current Earl, Helen’s cousin (who inherited the estate after the death of their brother and in short order did his best to drag the estate out of debt, while falling in love with and marrying her brother’s widow) arranged for Helen to marry his friend, the exceedingly wealthy department store owner, Rhys Winterborne. Then, due to a misunderstanding between them involving Helen’s first kiss ever, the betrothal was dissolved.
Rhys Winterborne, born poor and uneducated in Wales, has worked his way up to become one of the wealthiest men in England. After being injured in a train accident, Helen nursed him back to health, and he was drawn to the ethereal and shy beauty before he even saw her face clearly. Nonetheless, he considers himself a savage brute and knows a lot of other people do to, despite the wealth and influence he now wields. He knows how unlikely it is that a commoner like himself gets to ally himself to a noble family like the Ravenels, so is unsurprised when Helen’s sister-in-law Kathleen announces that the betrothal is at an end. What does surprise him greatly, however, is when Lady Helen herself shows up at his office some days later, claiming that while she was overwhelmed by her emotions, she was also very excited and she absolutely still wants to marry him. To the point where she’s quite willing for him to compromise her thoroughly to make sure nothing gets in the way of their marriage once more.
Once Helen returns to the bosom of her family, quite thoroughly and enthusiastically deflowered, her family can no longer mount any objections to her marrying Winterborne. There are secrets in Helen’s past, however, that may make her less desirable to Rhys once he discovers them. Can she get him to the altar before he finds out what only a select few people actually know?
The previous book in this series, Cold-Hearted Rake, was Lisa Kleypas’ first historical romance in five years. It was rather disappointing, all things considered, and the best thing about it was the romance it was setting up between Helen and Winterborne, which we get the continuation of here. Here‘s what I thought of this book.