Genre: historical romance
Cover: my book has the second cover, which I prefer. Although she does not look like the heroine in this book.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns with the next in her Cynster Sisters series . . .
The Honorable Miss Mary Cynster always gets what she wants. As the last unwed Cynster of her generation, she is determined to remain in charge of her life and of the man she will marry. At the very bottom of her list of potential husbands is Ryder Cavanaugh, the daring and devastating Marquess of Raventhorne, an overwhelming and utterly unmanageable lion of the ton. But destiny has a different plan.
Ryder needs Mary as his wife, not just because she is delightful, fiery, and tempting, but because he values all she could be. When fate and circumstance hand him the chance, he claims Mary as his marchioness . . . only to discover what he truly desires is not just to take her hand in marriage, but to capture her heart.
For now, the last of the Cynster books, as it will take some years before the next generation is ready to be married. I was looking forward to this one, and not disappointed in the least. Even when I thought the book would become predictable, it did not, Stephanie Laurens gave her own twists to some common tropes.
Finally it is time for Mary Cynster to find her own true hero. Of course, organized as she is, she has already selected him herself; she just needs the Lady’s necklace to confirm her choice. And she needs the infuriating Ryder Cavanaugh to leave her alone, while she focuses on his younger half brother Randolph. Mary wants a man she can manage, so she can lead her own life, and not be subject to the alpha tendencies like those of her male relatives, and the husbands of her sisters and cousins. And Randolph comes from one of the oldest families in the realm, just like the Cynsters are, so this will be a perfect match.
Ryder certainly is not used to getting dismissed like this tiny girl just did. He is one of the acknowledged lions of the ton, a rake, but he knows it is time he is married and start his own family. And he wants to find his own bride before the matchmaking ladies of the ton decide it is time as well, and throw their daughters, friends’ and relatives’ daughters at him at every opportunity. And now Mary Cynster has caught his eye. He likes her, and has known her from a distance for some years now, and she is the last of her generation. The last chance for many families to make an alliance with the mighty Cynster clan. With Henriette just getting engaged, the focus is not yet on Mary, but it will be soon.
When Ryder finds out that Mary has set her sights on Randolph, he tells her that Randolph is all wrong for her, he is not mature enough yet, and she just scares him. Mary does not believe him of course, but observation sure makes him right. So now she has to find someone else. Ryder tries to help her, with telling her details about the men she seems interested in, and in the mean time securing a place by her side for most of the time. And he does manage to claim a waltz with her every time, ensuring she is not immune to him after all. Yes, Mary is attracted to Ryder, but she certainly does not consider him husband material. He is way too arrogant and managing himself, she will not be able to set him to her hand. But Ryder manages to surprise her, by telling her that as his wife, he would give her a lot of leeway, and not always dictate to her.
Before she can digest that tempting bit, on her way home with her parents’ carriage, Mary sees Ryder (who always went home on foot, as it is faster, and who would dare attack a man as huge as he is), stumble out of an alley and collapse. She makes the carriage stop, and runs to his side. Handling things as quickly and efficiently as she is used to, Mary literally saves his life with putting pressure on the wound in his side, while her servants fetch his to take him home. The doctor sews him back together, but the fact that he stays unconscious, is not good. Mary is determined to stay at his side, not willing to let him die without her ever having the chance to contemplate marriage to him for real. She will bully him back to life if she must. Sending of a note to her parents about her whereabouts, she makes her self comfortable for her vigil. As Ryder has the constitution of an ox, and he heals fast, he does regain consciousness a few hours later, and is happily surprised to see Mary next to his bed.
So when early the next morning the doorbell rings, she is convinced it is her parents, coming to check up on her. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Ryder’s stepmother, who hates and loathes him, has come for a visit with two of the biggest gossips of London in her wake. And when she spots Mary on the stairs, she rudely barges into Ryder’s bedroom to confront them.
Ryder hides being wounded very well, and tells her that Mary is his fiancée. Mary knows it is the only solution possible to avoid a scandal, and that they have no other choice, so she is very reasonable about it all. Ryder has already made clear to her that he wants her as his wife, she just wanted some time to get to know each other better, before she made her decision. And now it is out of her hands.
And so, after a quick courtship and wedding between two very powerful characters, they are off to his country seat to enjoy their honeymoon, and for Mary to get used to the part of being a Marchioness. And to make her husband truly love her, as Cynsters always marry for love. But danger follows them to the country, where this time it is Mary who is targeted time and again. Ryder really does not have a clue who wants him and Mary dead, he cannot believe his stepmother or half siblings have anything to do with this. Even the Cynsters and their relatives and allies cannot find anything about who is behind this all.
From the first, I liked Mary. She is a very sensible and decisive young lady, used to taking the reigns and organizing whatever needs organizing. She knows she has little chance of that with Ryder, as he is way too much like her, but there is that powerful attraction between them, and he is the first man she came across when she wore the Ladies’ necklace for the first time. How can she find out if he is her true hero after all? Still, all the signs seem to point at him.
Ryder longs for a family of his own, and a better bond with his half siblings, something that is not really possible with his stepmother hating him so much. He envies the Cynsters their family life and really wants that for himself and his family. So in that part, he makes a good choice with Mary, she knows how to be part of a large and loving family. She also entertains him and he finds himself having conversations with her about a lot of different topics, she is really smart as well as beautiful.
I liked both Mary and Ryder, I thought Ryder would be more controlling and alpha, but he was not. He gave Mary the time and space she needs, and did not set about seducing her to make her see reason, as happens so often in historical romances. Instead, it was Mary who came to his bed in the middle of the night and would not take no for an answer.
I have to admit, I did have to look up a few words in the google dictionary. Stephanie Laurens does have a wonderful way with words but she does not use short and easy ones. Her books contain a lot of dialogue, both internally and face to face, and she has a very distinctive writing style. I would recognize her writing anytime. I have been a fan of her books for over 25 years now, and I hope to be able to read them for at least 25 years more. A few books ago, I was getting bored with the Black Cobra books as they were too similar in my opinion, but with the Cynster Sisters, she totally made them fresh again.
As an epilogue, the whole extended family is together, and it was fun to see them interact, and to meet all their many children. There sure are some hellions to watch out for in future books! I am looking forward to her new series.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian