Hi Lisa and welcome back to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Marrying Winterborne!
Hello my friends!
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:
I is for intense (a good word for the love scenes between Rhys and Helen!)
N is for neuralgic powder (medicine for Helen’s migraines)
T is for train (a lot happens at train stations in this book)
E is for engagement (which will happen only if Helen agrees to a scandalous proposition)
R is for Ravenels
B is for bustle (which, as Helen discovers, makes it very difficult to get in and out of hansom carriages)
O is for orchids (Helen’s hobby is caring for a collection of at least 200 of them)
R is for ring (Helen trades the diamond Rhys gave her for another kind of gemstone)
N is for newlyweds
E is for Evie (the heroine of Devil in Winter, who makes an appearance in the teaser at the end of this book!)
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
To my surprise, Rhys turned out to have some pretty romantic lines in this novel, even though I had conceived of him as a not-very-romantic guy. I think it’s his Welsh heritage—they’re a very poetic people. Here’s one from him:
“Love me for who I am… just as I love you for who you are… and our bond will last until the stars lose their shining.”
I also loved writing dialogue for Lady Berwick, who is always trying to instruct the three Ravenel sisters and keep them in line. A couple of choice ones from her:
“There is no happiness for any individual, man or woman, who does not dwell within the broad zone of average.”
“A man is not entitled to be called a father merely because he once had a timely spasm of the loins.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Rhys Winterborne is a self-made man, very much an outsider in society because he was born a Welsh grocer’s son. Even though he is insanely wealthy, he’s still looked down upon by the aristocracy. Helen, on the other hand, was raised as an earl’s daughter, and she and her sisters were kept in unusual seclusion at their country estate for most of their lives. So there’s a sharp contrast between his worldliness and her innocence. What I love about Helen is that it takes a lot of courage for her to break out of the constraints of the life she was born into. She grows so much during the story, and forces herself to take chances and experience new things.
Rhys and Helen actually met in the previous Ravenels novel, Cold Hearted Rake. The thing Rhys hates most is to be vulnerable in any way, and the first time they meet, he’s injured and helpless. Helen takes care of him with a mixture of patience and kindness that devastates him. They become briefly engaged, but there are some problems.
It’s clear at the beginning of Marrying Winterborne, when Helen asks Rhys to resume their engagement, that they know practically nothing about each other. They’ve both always been so guarded and cautious that they have to learn how to communicate directly and honestly. As a child, Helen was neglected, and as a result she has a hard time expressing her opinions and asserting herself. Rhys, on the other hand, has a big chip on his shoulder, and he’s certain that she disdains his common Welsh origins. So their relationship moves very, very fast for the first few chapters as they learn to trust each other. Of course, trust is a process, and it’s something they have to work on throughout the story.
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
One of the main challenges I faced with this book was in doing everything I could to get Rhys’s character right. The Welsh have such a unique culture and history that I had to research heavily to understand what a man from his place and time would be like. It’s one of the things I love about writing historicals, the chance to learn so many new things.
From the beginning, I was incredibly excited about being able to tell Rhys and Helen’s story. Even as minor characters in the previous book, they really caught my imagination. Sometimes there’s just this inexplicable chemistry that happens between two characters, and it’s nothing you can force. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they come from such different backgrounds and cultures. Whatever the reason, it felt electrifying every time they were in a scene together. There was one in particular, where Rhys goes to find Helen in her orchid glasshouse, and my heart started pounding while I was writing. I had to laugh at myself, of course, but still, I was so absorbed in the story!
What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?
I think this story is a little different in that Rhys and Helen’s feelings for each other are pretty clear from the beginning of the book. They’re so mutually fascinated and passionate about each other that I found myself unwilling to force some kind of emotional distance between them. So their conflict stems more from external developments and their reactions to them. And since they’re still unsure of each other in many ways, and Helen’s self-esteem is very low, they don’t always make the right choices. But it was really a joy to write about a hero who is just so obviously all-out, wildly, openly in love with the heroine from the very first moment.
The First Kiss…
She blinked at him through a blur of tears, breathing in mortifying hiccups, like a child. In the next moment, he had hauled her firmly against him.
“Hush, now.” His voice dropped to a deeper octave, a brush of dark velvet against her ears. “Hush, bychan, little one, my dove. Nothing is worth your tears.”
Mr. Winterborne went very still. After a minute, one of his hands came to her jaw, his thumb erasing the wake of a teardrop. The cuffs of his shirt had been rolled up to his elbows, in the manner of carpenters or farm workers. His forearms were heavily muscled and hairy, his wrists thick. There was something astonishingly comforting about being wrapped in his sturdy embrace. A dry, pleasant scent clung to him, a crisp mingling of starched linen and clean male skin, and shaving soap.
She felt him angle her face upward with great care. His breath fanned against her cheek, carrying the scent of peppermint. Realizing what he intended, she closed her eyes, her stomach lifting as if the floor had just disappeared from beneath her feet.
There was a brush of heat against her upper lip, so soft that she could scarcely feel it. Another touch at the sensitive corner of her mouth, and then at her lower lip, finishing with the hint of a tug.
His free hand slid beneath the fall of her veil to clasp the tender nape of her neck. His mouth came to hers in another brief, silky caress. The pad of his thumb drew over her lower lip, rubbing the kiss into the tender surface. The abrasion of a callus heightened the sensation, stimulating her nerve endings. She was suddenly lightheaded; her lungs wouldn’t draw in enough air.
His lips returned to hers, and she strained upward, dying for him to kiss her harder, longer, the way he had in her dreams. Seeming to understand what she wanted, he coaxed her lips apart. Trembling, she opened to the glassy touch of his tongue, helplessly taking in the flavor of him, mint and heat and coolness, as he began to consume her with a slow hunger that unraveled runners of feeling all through her body. Her arms went around his neck, her hands sinking into his thick black hair, the locks curling slightly around her fingers. Yes, this was what she had needed, his mouth taking hers, while he held her as if he couldn’t draw her close enough, tight enough.
She had never imagined that a man would kiss her as if he were trying to breathe her in, as if kisses were words meant for poems, or honey to be gathered with his tongue. Clasping her head in his hands, he tipped it back and dragged his parted lips along the side of her neck, nuzzling and tasting the soft skin. She gasped as he found a sensitive place, her knees slackening until they could barely support her weight. He gripped her closer, his mouth returning hungrily to hers. There was no thought, no will, nothing but a sensuous tangle of darkness and desire, while Mr. Winterborne kissed her with such blind, ravening intensity that she could almost feel his soul calling into her.
And then he stopped. With startling abruptness, he tore his mouth free and pried her arms from his neck. A protest slipped from Helen’s throat as he set her aside with more force than was strictly necessary. Bewildered, she watched as Mr. Winterborne went to the window. Although he was recovering from the train accident with remarkable speed, he still walked with a faint limp. Keeping his back to her, he focused on the distant green oasis of Hyde Park. As he rested the side of his fist against the window frame, she saw that his hand was trembling.
Eventually he let out a ragged breath. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
One corner of his mouth curled with contemptuous amusement. “Hedging your bets, are you?”
She stared at him in confusion. “Hedging my . . . ”
“You want to keep me on the hook,” he clarified, “until you’re sure about Trenear’s windfall.”
Helen was baffled and hurt by the scorn in his tone. “Why can’t you believe that I want to marry you for reasons other than money?”
“The only reason you accepted me was because you had no dowry.”
“That’s not true—”
He continued as if he hadn’t heard. “You need to marry one of your own kind, my lady. A man with pretty manners and a fine pedigree. He’ll know how to treat you. He’ll keep you in a country house, where you’ll tend your orchids and read your books—”
“That’s the opposite of what I need,” Helen burst out. It wasn’t at all like her to speak impetuously, but she was too desperate to care. Clearly he meant to send her away. How could she convince him that she genuinely wanted him?
“I’ve spent my entire life reading about the lives other people are having,” she continued. “My world has been . . . very small. No one believes I would thrive if I weren’t kept secluded and protected. Like a flower in a glasshouse. If I marry one of my kind, as you put it, no one will ever see me as I am. Only what I’m supposed to be.”
“Why do you think I would be any different?”
“Because you are.”
He gave her an arrested glance that reminded her of the gleam of light on a knife blade. After a peculiarly charged silence, he spoke brusquely. “You’ve known too few men. Go home, Helen. You’ll find someone during the Season, and then you’ll thank God, on your knees, that you didn’t marry me.”
If your hero had a sexy-times play list, what song(s) would have to be on it?
LOL . . . well, he’s really into Welsh folk songs, so probably something like “Blackbird Will You Go” (A Ei Di’r Deryn Du), or Song of the White Piper (Caniad y Gwyn Bibydd)
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
My favorite kind of romance novel–and what I hope this book could be for some people–is a comfort read. One of those books you pick up when you want to remember how it made you feel the first time you read it.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?
I’m working on Devil In Spring, the story of Lady Pandora Ravenel and Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent! Here’s an expanded version of the except I read during a recent Facebook Live. Pandora is determined never to marry–she wants to become an independent self-supporting woman. But then, she’s accidentally caught in a compromising situation with Lord St. Vincent, the most eligible bachelor in England. Pandora has made it clear that she doesn’t want a husband. And she’s not exactly Gabriel’s idea of the perfect wife, either . . .
“Look you,” Pandora told him in a businesslike tone, “marriage is not on the table.”
Look you? Gabriel was simultaneously amused and outraged. Was she really speaking to him as if he were an errand boy?
“I’ve never wanted to marry,” Pandora continued. “Anyone who knows me will tell you that. When I was little, I never liked the stories about princesses waiting to be rescued. I never wished on falling stars, or pulled the petals off daisies while reciting ‘he loves me, he loves me not.’ At my brother’s wedding, they handed out slivers of wedding cake to all the unmarried girls and said if we put it under our pillows, we would dream of our future husbands. I ate my cake instead. Every crumb. I’ve made plans for my life that don’t involve becoming anyone’s wife.”
“What plans?” Gabriel asked, inwardly baffled. How could a girl of her position, with her looks, make plans that didn’t include any possibility of marriage?
“That’s none of your business,” she told him smartly.
“Understood,” Gabriel assured her with exquisite politeness. “There’s just one thing I’d like to ask: What the bloody hell were you doing at the ball in the first place, if you don’t want to marry?”
“Because I thought it would be only slightly less boring than staying at home.”
“Anyone as opposed to marriage as you claim to be has no business taking part in the season.”
“Not every girl who attends a ball wants to be Cinderella.”
“If it’s grouse season,” Gabriel pointed out acidly, “and you’re keeping company with a flock of grouse on a grouse-moor, it’s a bit disingenuous to ask a sportsman to pretend you’re not a grouse.”
“Is that how men think of it? No wonder I hate balls.” Pandora looked scornful. “I’m so sorry for intruding on your happy hunting grounds.”
“I wasn’t wife-hunting,” he snapped. “I’m no more interested in marrying than you are.”
“Then why were you at the ball?”
“To see a fireworks display!”
After a brief, electric silence, Pandora dropped her head swiftly. He saw her shoulders tremble, and for an alarming moment, he thought she had begun to cry. But then he heard a delicate snorting, snickering sound, and he realized she was . . . laughing?
“Well,” she muttered, “it seems you succeeded.”
Before Gabriel even realized what he was doing, he reached out to lift her chin with his fingers. She struggled to hold back her amusement, but it slipped out nonetheless. Droll, sneaky laughter, punctuated with vole-like squeaks, while sparks danced in her blue eyes like shy emerging stars.
His annoyance drained away, displaced by a rampage of heat and delight. His heart began to thump with the force of his need to be alone with her. To be inside all that energy. Everything in him had just ignited like a bonfire of cotton sedge. He wanted her, wanted her, with all the reckless, self-indulgent desire he usually managed to keep contained. But it made no sense. He was a civilized man, an experienced one with sophisticated tastes, and she was . . . holy God, what was she?
He wished to hell he didn’t want to find out so badly.
Pandora’s amusement faded. Whatever she saw in his gaze caused a flush spread over her face in a soft scald of pink. Her skin turned hot beneath his fingertips.
Gabriel drew his hand back reluctantly. “I’m not your enemy,” he managed to say.
“You’re not my fiancé, either.”
Gabriel’s mouth twisted. “Tell me that again in a few days, and I might believe you. In the meantime—” He reached into his coat for another engraved card. “I’m going to give this to Lord Trenear.”
Deliberately, he gave a mocking glance, the kind that had never failed to drive his siblings mad . . . and he held the card in front of her.
As he’d guessed, Pandora couldn’t resist the silent challenge.
She grabbed for the card. Gabriel made it disappear, seemingly in midair, before she could touch it. As a boy, he’d learned sleight of hand from cardsharps during his visits to Jenner’s.
Pandora’s expression changed, her eyes widening. “How did you do that?”
Deftly Gabriel made the card reappear. “Learn to ask nicely,” he told her, “and I may show you someday.”
Her brows lowered. “Never mind. I’m not interested.”
But he knew it was a lie. The truth was in her eyes.
She was interested, no matter how she fought it.
And God help him . . . so was he.
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Giveaway: Autographed copies of Cold-Hearted Rake, Marrying Winterborne, and a romance novel coloring book
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Excerpt from Marrying Winterborne:
A sharp gust blew across the platform from the open side of the railway shed, whipping the front of Helen’s half-cape apart. The button of a frog fastening had slipped free of a braided silk loop. Gripping the edges of the cape, Helen turned her back to the wind and fumbled with the loop. Her fingers were so cold they wouldn’t work properly.
A pair of young women, clutching valises and hatboxes, brushed by her in their haste to leave the platform, and Helen was bumped sideways. Taking an extra step or two to maintain her balance, she collided with a huge, solid form.
A shocked breath escaped her as she felt a pair of hands steady her.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” she gasped, “I—”
Helen found herself looking up into a pair of midnight eyes. A deep flutter went through her stomach, and her knees weakened.
“Rhys,” she whispered.
Wordlessly he reached for the fastening of her cape and hooked the silk loop around the button. He was smartly dressed in a beautiful black wool overcoat and a gray hat. But his civilized attire did nothing to soften the hard-edged tension of a dangerous mood.
“Why did you come?” she managed to ask, her pulse in her throat.
“Do you think I’d let you leave London without saying goodbye?”
“I didn’t expect—but I wanted—that is, I’m glad—” Flustered, she fell silent.
Sliding a hand to the center of her back, Rhys murmured, “Come with me.” He guided her toward a tall wooden barrier that had been set up to partially across the platform. The wall was plastered with advertisements and notices about alterations to train services.
“My lady!” Helen heard from behind her, and she stopped to glance over her shoulder.
The footman, Peter, stared at her distractedly as he tried to buffer the rest of the family from the onslaught of departing passengers. “My lady, the earl bade me to keep you all together.”
“I’ll look after her,” Rhys told him curtly.
Kathleen, who had just noticed Rhys’s presence, interrupted the footman. “Allow them five minutes, Peter.” She sent Helen an imploring glance and held up five fingers to make certain she understood. Helen responded with a hasty nod.
Rhys pulled her to a sheltered corner created by the wooden barrier and a cast-iron support column. He turned his back to the crowd, concealing her from view.
“I had a devil of a time finding you.” His low voice undercut the din around them. “You’re at the wrong platform.”
“Cousin Devon has gone to find out where we should wait.”
An icy breeze teased a few white-blond wisps of hair loose from her coiffure and seemed to slip beneath the collar of her dress. She shivered violently, trying to huddle deeper into her cape.
“I can hear your teeth chattering,” Rhys said. “Come closer.”
With mingled dismay and longing, she saw that he was unfastening the front of his double-breasted coat. “I don’t think—there’s no need—”
Ignoring her protests, he pulled her against his body and wrapped the sides of the coat around her.
Helen closed her eyes as warmth and private darkness surrounded her, the thick wool muffling the busy clamor of their surroundings. She felt like a small woodland creature nestling in its burrow, hiding from dangers that lurked outside. He was large and strong and warm, and she couldn’t help relaxing into his embrace, her body recognizing his as a source of comfort.
“Better?” His voice was soft against her ear.
Helen nodded, her head on his chest. “Why didn’t you reply to my last letter?” she asked in a muffled voice.
The fine leather of his black-gloved fingers slid beneath her chin, nudging it upward. The mocking glint in his eyes was unmistakable. “Perhaps I didn’t like your question.”
“I was afraid—that is, I thought—”
“That I might have changed my mind? That I might not want you any longer?” His voice was edged with something that sent a prickle down the back of her neck. “Would you like proof of how I feel, cariad?”
Before she could reply, his mouth crushed over hers in a demonstration that was nothing less than scandalous. He didn’t care. He wanted her, and he intended for her to know it, feel it, taste it. Her hands inched up his shoulders and around his neck, clinging for balance as her knees gave way. The kiss went on in timeless suspension, his lips restless and searing, while his hand cradled her cheek in cool black leather. It wasn’t anger that drove him, she realized dazedly. He had come because he wanted reassurance. He was no more certain of her than she was of him.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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.
Meet the Author:
Lisa Kleypas is a New York Times bestselling author of both historical and contemporary romance. Her thirty-nine novels and four novellas have been published in twenty-four languages and are bestsellers around the world. After graduating from Wellesley College with a political science degree, Lisa sold her first book and made a full-time career of writing the kinds of romances she has always loved to read. Lisa is living her own happily-ever-after in Washington State with her husband Greg and their two children.
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