Welcome back to Under the Covers, Lisa! We are thrilled to be able to talk to you today about MARRYING WINTERBORNE!
Thank you for inviting me, I’m delighted!
Can you tell us a little bit more about who Rhys Winterborne is? What would readers find most surprising about his character?
Rhys Winterborne is the first Welsh hero I’ve ever created, and he appeared in my imagination, more or less fully formed, as soon as I read a description of Welshmen as being like the Scotch or Irish on steroids. Rhys is an incredibly successful businessman (having created the world’s largest department store) but he’s always conscious of his rough, lower-class background. At the beginning of the book, he wryly describes himself as “a bruiser from North Wales with a taste for fine things.” He’s spent his life fighting for wealth and status, and he wants all the trappings that will force people to respect him. Even though Rhys believes he’s a complete mismatch for the innocent Lady Helen, he wants her anyway. I think what surprises Helen (and it actually surprised me) is that as the story unfolds, Rhys turns into a deeply romantic man. I think it has a lot to do with his Welsh heritage—they have such a valiant, colorful history, and an innate sense of mysticism, and definitely the language. Often the distinctive phrasing and rhythm of North Wales dialect sounds like poetry to me.
Based on the events of the first book in the series, I love Helen’s character. What would you say is your favourite thing about her?
Thank you!—I loved Helen because she is incredibly resilient and brave in a way that very shy people can sometimes be. No matter what the challenge, or how afraid she is, she’s willing to take a risk if she thinks it’s the right thing to do. Even though Helen has been perceived as weak-willed, it becomes clear that she’s been tremendously underestimated. I’ve always believed that kindness is the greatest virtue, and Helen is a tremendously kind person. That’s my favorite thing about her.
You’ve given us some glimpses on Facebook of beautiful places and times that you captured in this novel. What was your favorite thing about your research to write this novel?
The Victorian London setting has given the story a jolt of energy that I absolutely adored. It’s colorful, lively and sometimes a little gritty, and I think the reader gets a sense of these characters really inhabiting and interacting with the city. The most fun research had to do with Rhys’s department store—it allowed me to pore through vintage catalogues to find out what was being sold back then, such as perfumes, gloves, furniture, etc. I tried to recreate the feeling of what it would be like to walk into one of these retail palaces, which were so spectacularly designed, and decorated with crystal chandeliers, marble staircases, and stained glass domes overhead. Interesting fact: before the department store, there were no public restrooms for ladies—you had to go all the way back home to your own bathroom. Charles Henry Harrod (who founded Harrods) was pretty smart to figure out that women would stay longer and shop more if you made restrooms available to them!
You have a special talent for creating such a great group of characters that readers tend to really care about. What tip would you give writers if they want to establish that sense of community (or family) that your books often have?
Thank you! I think you have to start by acquiring a detailed understanding of the world and society the characters live in. Our personalities are all shaped by the events, big and small, that happen around us, and we’re all influenced by trends and fads and politics. Then you focus on how the characters’ specific circumstances. For example, Helen has spent most of her life at an incredibly quiet country estate, so most of what she knows of the world is from books. Rhys, on the other hand, was raised in an urban setting. As a boy, one of his jobs was delivering baskets of groceries from his father’s shop to customers, so he’s very streetwise and rough-edged. She’s had a little too much fantasy, and he’s had a little too much reality. Once you know who your characters are, you know how they’ll interact.
The most important thing to remember is that no one lives in a vacuum. Whenever something happens to one person in the family, it sort of happens to all of them, because they’re emotionally connected. An example of this is from “Love In The Afternoon,” the last book of my Hathaway series, when the youngest sister Beatrix wants to marry Captain Christopher Phelan. In one extended scene, everyone in the family reacts, processes, protests and/or supports this new development. Even if you haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, you can read this scene and tell what kind of relationship each family member has with Beatrix.
What is your favourite thing about writing Historical Romance? What are you currently working on now?
I love the kinds of plots and conflicts that are possible in historical romance—the long-ago settings make it easier to escape into the fantasy. People used to face a much greater variety of obstacles in their relationships—religion, social class, parental authority, culture, nationality, and so forth, so plotting a historical is really exciting, because there are so many options to choose from.
Right now I’m working on a book titled “Devil In Spring,” which features Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent as the hero. He’s the son of Sebastian and Evie from “Devil In Winter.” To my delight, a reader recently referred to him as a “Wallflower baby,” and so far it’s been tremendous fun to tuck little references to wallflower books into the story. Gabriel is the romantic foil for Lady Pandora Ravenel, a fiercely independent and very original heroine, who has resolved (for very good reasons) never to marry. So of course, I started the book by throwing them together, as strangers, into a terribly compromising situation.
What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole—so hot, so imaginative, so intense! I can’t think of another author who writes characters who are brutal, violent, politically incorrect, romantic and wonderfully, oddly innocent. What a combination! To me, a Kresley Cole hero is a dish of ice cream.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions today. As always, we wait anxiously for anything you write and release and can’t wait to see what you’ll bring us next!
Thanks, this was fun as always!
by Lisa Kleypas
Released: May 31st 2016
Series: The Ravenels #2
Published by Avon
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