Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

BLURB:

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?

RHL Classifications:

Edwardian Era

Historical Romance

Heat Level: 2.5

Reviewer rating: 4 Stars

REVIEW BY JILL

So, we come to it at last. A mundane marital task, was this not? An obligation he’d put off for too long. Why then, as he advanced toward the bedroom, did he feel as if he were being swept out to sea? That the tides and currents would be unlike anything he’d ever known in the calm estuary that had been his marriage?

Millicent (Millie) Graves, an heiress was wed at sixteen. Her father determined that they be joined to a titled family, arranged the marriage to the impoverished Earl Fitzhugh. Fitz, at nineteen and newly titled, was not yet ready for marriage let alone children. Fitz and Millie make an agreement to not consummate the marriage until they both want children. Though married they would live separate lives for the agreed eight years. But now with the eight-year pact finally drawing to a close, Fitz’s first and only love makes a reappearance in his life.

There are many talented writers of historical romance. But even they tend to write within certain guidelines, never wavering from what’s expected from the genre. Sherry Thomas does not write the expected. She steps on the toes of predictable romance tropes. Her romances rely on the usual happily-ever-afters, misunderstandings and impossibly handsome heroes. But she takes a twisted and often tortured path to that rainbow at the end of the story. Her romances don’t work for everyone, that’s for sure.

But with a writing style and prose almost second-to-none in historical romance, she delivers in Ravishing the Heiress another absorbing story. Sweet, sensible, self-controlled Millie falls in love at first sight with the handsome, young Fitz. Fitz, in love with another barely notices Millie as a woman, but they develop a deep, beautiful friendship over their eight-year marriage.

Readers who baulk at adultery, misunderstandings and the hero pining for another woman for most of the book, will have trouble enjoying this. Fitz, for the most part is a blind, selfish fool. He’s offended when others disrespect Millie, yet he is the worst offender and the cause of others’ disrespect, a hypocrite.

“No one is allowed to disrespect my wife, least of all some woman with whom I am temporarily keeping company.”

Their honeymoon was awful, heartbreaking for Millie (and for me as a reader). The narrative switches back and forth between the past and present. The resolution of all this drama is quick and the ending abrupt.

But like every Sherry Thomas novel I’ve read, at the end, I’m left with the impression that I’ve just read something more than a mere romance.

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