About a million years ago, while hanging out in various online historical romance book groups, people kept extolling the virtues of Lisa Kleypas’ books. Specifically, readers said that nobody writes to-die-for heroes like Lisa Kleypas does. Particular favorites in the book groups were Zachary Bronson from WHERE DREAMS BEGIN and Derek Craven in DREAMING OF YOU. These self-made, passionate men are incredibly complex characters and capture a reader’s imagination. I enjoyed Zachary’s story, but I am firmly and forever Team Alex rather than Team Derek. Over the years, my Lisa Kleypas addiction grew. Whenever there’s a reader poll for top ten favorite heroes, I find a majority of my picks are created by Lisa Kleypas. My favorites include Alex from THEN CAME YOU, Nick Gentry from WORTH ANY PRICE, Simon Hunt and the devilish and delicious Sebastian from the Wallflowers series, and Leo Hathaway in MARRIED BY MORNING.
I was ecstatic when I first learned that Lisa Kleypas was coming out with the Ravenels series, since I’m wild for her historical romances. Happily, this series does not disappoint. The deliciously gothic setting of Eversby Priory combined with the passionate Ravenels makes for entertaining stories. The heroines in the “Ravenels” series are a diverse group of women and, consequently, their journeys are very different. The heroes in this series are equally as diverse as the heroines, and each are dashing in their own way. As a longtime fan, I was most anxious about how DEVIL IN SPRING would turn out, since I adored DEVIL IN WINTER so much. In the end, DEVIL IN SPRING is my favorite book in this series so far.
COLD-HEARTED RAKE introduces the world of the Ravenels. Recently widowed Kathleen Ravenel is determined to think of newly minted Lord Trenear as an irredeemable cold-hearted rake. Her opinion is colored slightly by her experience with her late husband and by her sense of guilt over his sudden death. First books in a series can often drag, because of all the basic info given to the reader to set up a series. I found COLD-HEARTED RAKE to be thoroughly engrossing and a great book to lock yourself away with. It takes some time, but Kathleen eventually sees that Devon is not the villain she first supposes him to be. The Ravenels all experience some growing pains as a family in this book, but the romance that slowly develops between Devon and Kathleen takes precedence over everything. What I love most about this story is the exquisite sexual tension between the hero and heroine, and the way the characters make you care about them. This first book hooked me on this series.
MARRYING WINTERBORNE picks up exactly where COLD-HEARTED RAKE leaves off – with a frank conversation between wealthy department store owner Rhys Winterborne, and the kind-hearted and somewhat delicate Lady Helen Ravenel. I admit that, at the beginning of this story, I could never have anticipated the direction that Lisa Kleypas would take these characters. Rhys has many of the same qualities as other self-made businessmen characters written by Lisa Kleypas. Yes, Rhys finds the idea of marrying somebody from the aristocracy attractive, but I like the way he is enchanted by Helen almost from first meeting her. Secrets play a big part in MARRYING WINTERBORNE, and there is a huge threat to the happiness of this hero and heroine, with lots of suspense to keep the story lively. While initially seeming like opposites and an unlikely match, this hero and heroine provide everything each other needs.
DEVIL IN SPRING is the third, and my favorite, “Ravenels” book. DEVIL IN WINTER is one of my most cherished books with an amazingly naughty and witty anti-hero. DEVIL IN SPRING is about that character’s son. A few of my favorite historical romance authors have written about children of main characters from an earlier series. Some series make that transition better than others, but I was incredibly anxious about this one. Not only do I enjoy this book immensely, and I love the main characters, but I am eager to read more stories built around Gabriel’s family. Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent is unaware of his date with destiny when he encounters the unconventional and spirited Lady Pandora Ravenel. Pandora is a heroine who is both quirky and capable, while also suffering from an ailment for years. Gabriel loves his father but is quick to remind others, as well as the reader, that there are a few key differences. The family interactions in this story are a lot of fun and the complexities of each character make a much richer story. I admire Pandora’s determination to not marry under any terms other than her own, and I also admire Gabriel’s eventual realization that he loves her enough to try and give her as much freedom as he’s able to for the time period he’s living in. Mutual respect is something that permeates the couples in this story and HELLO STRANGER as well.
In the fourth book in this series – HELLO STRANGER – Dr. Garrett Gibson is an extremely formidable heroine and the only female doctor in England. Although she normally avoids prolonged romantic entanglements with men, Ethan Ransom is hard to dismiss. Ethan might have some of the most egalitarian beliefs when it comes to women. He admires Garrett’s intelligence and strength, and has no reluctance about teaching her to fight dirty in order to protect herself. This hero and heroine make a striking couple since she is nobody’s fool and he is part Batman and part Sherlock Holmes. The political intrigue and danger add excitement to this romance. One of the things that separates this story from others in this series, is that there are no chaperones and society power plays. There are a few dastardly villains, and some risk to life and limb, but at the end of the day it’s a steamy and well-written romance between a detective and a doctor.
A Lisa Kleypas book is like the “little black dress” of historical romance – it never goes out of style, and is perfect for any occasion. This series has something for every historical fan – devilishly handsome smooth-talking heroes – both aristocratic and common, heroines who are all intelligent but have varied temperaments, drawing room banter and clinches, along with an eclectic mix of evildoers and perilous predicaments. All of these things make this “Ravenels” series delish and I can’t wait for the next one!