My Bontys have been fine on the road. I wouldn't worry about them for most cross and mixed-surface.
I have a set of DTSwiss R1.1 rims laced to Ultegra hubs w. DTSwiss double-butted spokes. Used them through the summer training on the road, then through cross season, with no problems. They were hand built at the LBS.
Two online shops that are worth checking out:
I've never used either, but they have lots of options and get fairly favorable reviews.
As for what to get, I'd go with a durable 32 spoke build. Something that will last forever. You can always get something light with minimal spokes later, but everybody should have a solid multi-purpose backup wheelset.