July 9, 2012

Review: Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

Lately I’ve been unsuccessful finding a Historical Romance that I like enough to finish. When I heard about this book, I was so curious that I even considered pre-ordering it. Then I kept hearing more and more about how angsty it was and I became a bit wary, but after reading a couple of Ms. Thomas’ previous books, I decided to give it a try. 

This is the second book in a series featuring the Fitzhugh siblings, but I think they stand alone well, or at least well enough to enjoy them separately. I haven’t read the first book but I didn’t have any problems getting into the story.

The first time Millie saw Fitz, she fell desperately, profoundly and irrevocably in love with him. Because they were about to enter a marriage of convenience, one would thing that falling for him would have been a welcomed feeling, but in truth it was the worse that could happen because Fitz was desperately, profoundly and irrevocably in love with someone else. So when Millie discovers this, and after witnessing how miserable he was, she offers him a bargain: they will wait eight years to consume the marriage, and once the time comes, they will only have sex until she gets pregnant, then they will go their separate ways.

The story is told alternating between past and present through a series of flashbacks that span the entire eight years, so we get to see they relationship develop into a beautiful friendship and true partnership. When the book begins, the eight years are up; Isabelle, the other woman, is back and ready to resume their relationship even as his mistress; and Millie and Fitz must decide what to do with their relationship. At first, the decision is a no-brainer – they must consume their marriage as soon as possible so that Fitz can finally be free to be with his beloved. So now is Fitz the one who proposes a new deal: they will stay together for six months while she gets pregnant, and then he will go live with Isabelle as his mistress. 

However, things aren’t that simple. First, because Millie loves him –although that’s not really a problem since she’s more than willing to sacrifice herself for his happiness—. Second, because the more time he spends with Isabelle the more he realizes how much he cares for Millie. Finally, he can’t avoid the comparisons, not just between the two women, but also between the man he was and the man he’s become. 

What starts as a marriage of convenience story, ends as a painfully real friends-to-lovers tale. It’s probably one of the few times in which I could actually see the reasons why the friends fall for each other. Millie suffers from a serious case of love at first sight, but when you read the book you realize that the reason she can’t fall out of love is because she grows to truly know and care about Fitz. The flashbacks also allow us to see how these two characters change and mature as individuals and as a couple. They may not be romantically involved, but their relationship is just as loving and personal as that of two people who share more than a friendship. By being witness of all this, I was able to see how well matched they were, even before they did.

But this was also a very angsty and tortuous read, because Fitz spends almost the entire book in love with someone else. It’s a long time to love someone you can’t have, but his unwillingness to move on makes sense because external circumstances kept him apart from his beloved so loving her almost felt like holding a grudge. He’s a victim of the circumstances just as much as Millie and it’s hard to blame him for it. He was also blind to the fact that he was a different man, something that becomes obvious once he interacts again with Isabelle who is still quite the same person. But it’s a difficult book to read because all the characters are miserable and in deep emotional pain, therefore so are we. It’s almost unbearable to see Millie love Fitz while he plans his future with Isabelle, to see Millie be a friend to him and comfort him while she was so alone and had no one to offer her some support. Needless to say, I cried. A Lot.


All of that isn’t bad, because when books have so much despair there’s also a huge payoff at the end. But that’s not the case here and this is the reason the book miserably fails to deliver. The ending is rushed (1), there’s no groveling or big gesture, and the whole time I kept thinking that sex was what cured Fitz from his helpless blindness, I hate that he discovers his feelings for Millie after they go to bed. But more than that, I hate that the resolution happens in the last pages and we never get to see them be happy and in love. I feel cheated, I had to endure all that angst for nothing and it makes me mad. I was in agony through the book and I didn’t have enough happiness at the end to make up for it. Maybe the next book will show them enjoying their HEA, but I don’t want to have to read another book to get what should have been in this. 

Overall, it’s a very good book. The characters are wonderful and likeable –even poor Fitz with his pain that blinded him to everyone else’s pain—. I like Ms. Thomas’ voice, even though the books I've read have inspired mixed feelings. Unfortunately, the ending didn’t satisfy and this was a book that really needed a good ending.

(1) I knew this going in, though. I read plenty of reviews that clearly said the ending was rushed, yet I didn't understand just how rushed it was until I read the book. 

Review by Brie
Grade: 3
Sensuality: McSexy
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage--and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives. 
It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more...Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabella, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife... 
As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship--or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?

Berkley. July 3, 2012.

4 comments:

  1. The ending just made me shake my fist. Damn it. This book killed me, and then disappointed me. I needed to be more convinced of Fitz's true love for Millie..and that he is totally over Isabelle.

    Otherwise, fab read :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I wanted more demonstrations of love and I wanted Fitz to give dead Alice to Isabelle as a token of his dead love!

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  2. I actually am loving the idea of this one. Poor Millie though, that sounds like a hard pill to swallow. That the man you love is loving and planning a life with someone else. I do like the freinds-to-lovers aspect, and the inevitable growth of each character.

    I'm with you though Brie. If I had to endure so much heartache I want a good portion of HEA to make up for it in the end.

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    Replies
    1. It is appealing, that's the reason I read it even though I knew it wouldn't be an easy book to read. But it's a book I would recommend just because it was very entertaining, painful, but entertaining! Let me know how you like it ;-)

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.