A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better . . .
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable . . . the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne
Fantastic book that picks up right where Cold-HeartedRake left off. In that book, Helen and Rhys had been introduced by her cousin Devon, who was looking to use Helen to form a business alliance. When both men were injured in a train accident, Helen took it upon herself to nurse Rhys back to health. It was an odd friendship that developed, between the common-born self-made tycoon and the shy and sheltered Lady Helen. Rhys decided then that he wanted Helen for his own, and she agreed for reasons of her own. But a misunderstanding and interference from her sister-in-law Kathleen, ends the engagement.
This book opens with Helen visiting Rhys at his place of business (just not done!) to explain what had happened and try to reinstate their engagement. I was impressed by Helen and how she stepped way out of her comfort zone to do so. Rhys was not welcoming at first. Though a talented and confident man, sure of his abilities in business, there is part of him that is very vulnerable. He saw Helen's earlier reaction to him as disgust and a rejection of who he is, and now believes she only wants him back because of his wealth. I loved this entire scene, as Helen slowly convinces him that it was him she wants. I especially loved the part about the ring. Though Helen gets her wishes, Rhys has his own condition to guarantee that the marriage will take place. He wants her thoroughly compromised so that no one can stop it. Rhys is both determined and nervous about carrying out his plan - he wants her like he has no other, but he also realizes that he must treat her carefully. This scene was steamy and sweet, and I loved seeing Rhys's tenderness.
The reinstatement of the engagement causes some new tensions, as the desire between Rhys and Helen flares hotter every day. Rhys wants them to marry immediately, but Helen wants to wait until their mourning for her brother is over. Once again, Rhys finds himself wanting to make Helen happy, even if it is hard on him. As her family moves back to the country to put some distance between them, both Helen and Rhys miss each other desperately. During the trip home, Helen discovers something about her past that explains several things, but leaves her more confused about herself. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers that her secret could have a direct effect on her marriage to Rhys.
Their return to London puts Helen and Rhys in close contact again. I loved how they found ways to be together. While their physical relationship continued to intensify, there were also times where they simply talked. I loved seeing how quickly Helen began to understand Rhys and what drives him. She also has a determined way of defending him, to others and to himself. Rhys turned out to be an even more sensitive man that I expected. He is obviously smitten with Helen and determined to do anything to make her happy. The changes in him were obvious, as he went from brooding workaholic to a man who is able to let his softer side show.
When the secret that Helen has rears its ugly head in London, she has some serious decisions to make. Does she tell Rhys and take a chance that he will take it badly, or follow others' advice and keep quiet? A horrifying discovery sends her on a quest for something that could end it all. I loved her determination to make things right, no matter the cost to herself. The intensity of this part had me wondering how it was going to turn out. I loved the ending, with Rhys being both tough and tender, protective and besotted. The follow up scene was hilarious as he planned and carried out their elopement.
I also loved the secondary characters. Helen's sisters, Cassandra and Pandora are terrific in their determination to be themselves, not just another society miss. They are intelligent and kind-hearted and would do anything for their sister Helen. Devon's brother West makes only a small appearance in this book, but I still loved seeing him pretend to hang on to his rakish ways. I loved Dr. Gibson, the lady doctor who made such a big impression on Rhys. Her feistiness and self-confidence were great, as was her assistance to Helen. I also loved Rhys's secretary, Mrs. Fernsby and her ability to manage Rhys.