5 stars

Historical Romance Review: Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas

Then Came You, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, 1993, cover artist TBD, cover model Steve Sandalis

Mild Spoilers 😉

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Heroine to Remember

The heroine of Lisa Kleypas’ Then Came You was, at the time of the book’s initial release, a unique female protagonist. Today, Romancelandia is replete with hoydenish, unmarried non-virgins who thumb their nose at society’s rules. Back in 1993, the wild Lily Lawson was, for the most part, unusual for a historical romance heroine.

The novel begins with Lily aboard a fancy sea vessel for a daytime event that bores her senseless. She allows her hat to fly off into the waters of the Thames in an attempt to prod her male admirers into fetching it for her. The reserved Lord Alex Raiford looks on, disgusted by her antics.

Lily is on the fringes of polite society as she is estranged from her family for her shocking behavior. Many years ago, she was involved in a love affair with an Italian gentleman who turned out to be a cad. Now, she takes pleasure in shocking the ton. Upon hearing that her dear sister cannot marry the man she loves, “Lawless” Lily Lawson–as she is called–is determined to break her sister’s engagement with the stuffed-shirt Lord Raiford. She will use all her will and wiles to stop him from marrying her.

A Hero to Die For

When Lily does succeed, Alex vows revenge and in scene after memorable scene, his vengeance turns to passion. (I admit to fanning myself to Alex’s reaction when Lily is painted with a serpent on her flesh!) Then passion yields to love when he realizes that Lily’s outward behavior is just a cover for the dark secrets that torment her.

Lord Raiford is a responsible man. He has a little brother to care for and estates to run. He was looking for a responsible bride to round out his life.

Alex’s first fiancee died in a horseback riding accident, so Alex is hesitant to get close to anyone, especially a woman of such free spirit. If you know me and my reviews, you know where I stand on that trope, but here it’s no ghost who’s part of the conflict.

Lily has gained even more notoriety a the only female allowed to gamble in a gaming hell, namely that of Derek Craven’s. Here, Lily shares a bit of chemistry with the sexy, snaggle-toothed proprietor. Many Kleypas fans prefer Derek, the hero of this book’s sequel, Dreaming of You, as their favorite Kleypas MC, or even Sebastian from The Devil in Winter (I haven’t read that one yet). As for me, I thought Alex Raiford was the better man, although I adore the scene where Alex confronts Craven about being Lily’s lover.

There are more obstacles to Lily and Alex being together than their stubbornness and being polar opposites. But Alex’s love will make Lily’s impossible dreams come true. I can’t help but gush over a hero like Alex: principled, maybe a little uptight, beautiful, and good with kids!

Final Analysis for Then Came You

What to say about this book? Lisa Kleypas proved herself to me as one of the new era of Historical Romance’s best writers! There’s so much to appreciate here: a strong, unconventional heroine; an honorable hero I adore; and wonderfully plotted romance. This is one of my all-time top favorites!

3 replies »

  1. Thanks, Introvert Reader. I haven’t read this book. It seems like Alex might be my kind of hero. But as for Lily, I dunno. She seems a little too modern for me.

    One important reason why I read so many vintage romances is because I don’t go for today’s typical heroines. For many reasons. Don’t worry, I won’t list them here.

    Back in the 20th century historical romance heroines were allowed to think, act, and live like women of their time, place, and milieu actually did. Maybe not all hist rom heroines. And every reader and writer has her own idea of just what was a typical woman of a given setting.

    But at least it was easier back then to find hist rom heroines who seemed like authentic products of their society and culture. Not modern women in quaint costumes.

    Those of us who go for such true-to-life heroines have two choices. Read older romances or write our own.

    I’m doing both!

  2. I agree with you Mary Anne, about preferring heroines be true to their times. I first read this one 20 years ago when this was a rare case of a heroine “gone wild” a historical romance. It was unique back then. Today, so many romance heroines in historicals are out of synch with their mores of their eras or seems like mouthpieces for a certain viewpoint, rather than existing as living characters in time foreign to us. They do say “the past is another country.”

    I’m so happy to hear you are creating a true to life heroine, and I can’t wait to read your work!

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