Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh - Stephanie Laurens (Avon - June 2013)

Series: Cynster (Book 23)

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.

Fantastic book.  I love the Cynsters series and this was another terrific one.  Mary is ready to find herself a husband.  She is very strong-willed and has no intention of giving up control of her life so she wants a husband she can manage.  Ryder is definitely not the type of man she wants but he has set his sights on her, and like her he is determined to get what he wants.

Mary is a Cynster woman.  She is independent, intelligent and strong willed.  Most of the (non-Cynster) men she knows are the type who will do things their way and their wives have no say and she wants nothing to do with that type.  She has set her sights on Ryder's younger brother, but as she puts her plans into motion Ryder keeps interfering.  I loved the dialogue between her and Ryder from the very beginning.  She doesn't hold back when talking to him and it doesn't take her long to discover that he is much more satisfying to converse with that his brother was.  Pretty soon Ryder is the man on her mind but she is still reluctant to get involved with him.  When she ends up in a position where marriage is the only option she decides to make the best of it.  By this time she is starting to realize that Ryder is the one for her, but she also needs to make him realize that being partners is the best way to go on. One of the best quotes in the book is from a letter to Mary from Minerva, Duchess of Wolverstone: "Rather than go against them - which only results in immediately meeting the solid and instinctive wall of their resistance - I have found it pays to find a way to work with them.  Once you make it clear you are entirely willing to find a way to solve whatever issue they have - that you are content to work alongside them rather than oppose them - the poor dears are usually so grateful they'll happily share the reins, and then one can steer the applecart in a more amenable direction."  This makes sense to Mary and starts her evolving from the bossy control freak into a woman who knows the art of compromise.  There were times that her take charge manner was exactly what was needed and others where it just didn't work.  In the second half of the book they are trying to figure out who is trying to kill them.  I enjoyed seeing them work together and how each was learning about the other. 

Ryder was an interesting hero.  He had determined that it was time for him to marry, but he wanted to do it his way without interference from matchmaking mamas.  He had settled on Mary as his choice and was slightly dismayed to find her pursuing his brother.  He knew that they would not suit, but also knew that she would resist his advances.  I loved the way that he started out by simply getting in her way over his brother, then moved on to pursuing her somewhat subtly.  I loved the way that when she finally figured it out she confronted him, he listened but told her he would have her.  Ryder had settled on her because she was suitable, but soon realized that her wit and attitude really appealed to him.  He also wanted her because, as a Cynster, she knew and appreciated the value of family.  His own family was pretty fractured and he wanted her to help him build a family like hers.  He was also determined to stay in control of his emotions, though that became increasingly harder.  When he was attacked and nearly killed it was Mary who saved his life.  It also put her in a compromising position that Ryder immediately took advantage of: "I haven't reached where I am today without learning to take advantage of every blessing Fate sends my way. So no, I won't be searching for any way to undo what Fate has done."  I love the way that he seems to understand her so well.  He is protective and possessive but he is also accepts that her traits are what make her the woman she is so he doesn't try to change her.  He still spends a lot of time trying to convince himself that his emotions are still completely under his control, when they obviously are not.  Especially as she becomes the focus of the attacks he begins to realize that he needs her in his life.  The final one really brings it home as they fear they have really reached a point of no escape.  I loved the way that the mystery of the attacks played out and how it allows the Cavanaugh family to move on.

One of the best parts of the book is the epilogue as the entire family gathers for its summer retreat.  Honoria and the original Cynster brides talk about the family and how far it has come.  The importance of family is reinforced as they note that Mary was the last of the current group to get married.  They also talk about their children and what they will be like when it's their turn.  I especially liked Honoria's thought about trying to manage Devil when their daughters come of age.  I hope this sets the stage for books about the next generation, who will be living at the beginning of the Victorian period.

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