Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas (Fitzhugh Trilogy #1)
May 1, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “Don’t cheat me – that was not a kiss.” The Duke of Lexington had spoken; he would not be denied.
Venetia Easterbrook is a beauty and no one would disagree with that fact. Her first husband became so obsessed that she would one day cheat on him, he ended his own life. Quickly marrying a wealthy, older gentleman, in present day, Venetia is a widow who is happy to just be alone. She turns her attention to her younger sister, Helena who she fears is carrying on with a married man. To divert her attention and a scandal, Venetia and her sister inlaw Millie take Helena to the States to try to quietly and secretly get her to have new interests, as in maybe a new man. It is here they discover the Duke of Lexington will be giving a speech. Venetia thinks he might just be the man to woo Helena away from her brewing scandal.
Lexington loves science and digging up fossils and publishing his findings in scientific journals. But he has another passion, a secret passion that swarms his dreams at night. He is in love with Venetia Easterbrook. He has never really engaged her in conversation, but years ago, when she was married to her first husband, he caught a sight of her, and has never been able to let her beauty go. The obsession became so great, he knew he must try to remove himself from her charms. So when he is presenting his speech in Boston, and he gets onto the topic of beauty and how it relates to him scientifically, he brings up the story of Venetia. He doesn’t use her name, but he uses her circumstances – a man who is brought to suicide because of his wife’s beauty. Venetia becomes numb. She has lived year after year, trying to come to terms with her first marriage, and now the Duke has opened all of those old wounds.
Eventually, these two end up on a ship together, to sail back to England. Venetia is so mortified, she hides herself behind a veil, and plans revenge against Lexington. Make him fall in love with her, and then cut him out. But as she seduces him under a false German pretense (with her veil firmly in place) she didn’t count on the fact that she might fall for him too.
Beguiling the Beauty is the first I’ve ever read of Sherry Thomas, although I’ve been wanting to try this author for a long time. I had issues with the romance in this book, but I did enjoy this author’s voice. There are some great dialogue moments in this book between Venetia and Lexington. She also sets up the supporting characters wonderfully for this trilogy – I’ll go more into that later.
First though, I found the romance in this book to be cold. It has quite a slow start, but things start to pick up when Venetia and Lexington sail back to England together. For at least the first half of the book, Lexington doesn’t realize his German love, is Venetia. He is actually tormented, because he has fallen in love with this veiled woman, but he also has not forgotten his obsession with Venetia. When he sees Venetia again (unveiled) she acts cold towards him, and he rebels thinking she is all beauty and no warmth.
“I disapprove of your character, Mrs. Easterbrook.”
“You don’t know my character, sir,” she said decisively. “The only thing you know is my face.”
But the veiled Venetia to him is all warmth and love although he has no idea what she looks liked. Anyway, I think it all carries on too long. When Lexington finally discovers both of his loves are the same person, he turns very cold. I needed more pages of a happy Lexington and Venetia together. I just didn’t’ like the romance as in - it didn’t feel romantic to me. I needed Lexington to act a little kinder and I found myself frowning at him through much of the book.
As I said earlier, besides Venetia and Lexington, we also get a lot of page time with Fitz and Millie who will star in book two, and Helena, who will be in book three. Fitz was forced to marry Millie at the age of nineteen for money. It is not a love match, or so it seems. Fitz has mistresses, which Millie and him discuss over breakfast. They have not yet consummated their marriage, something they both agreed would be better if they waited. But there is that slight spark of lust/love between them and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out in the next book.
So while the romance didn’t do it for me in this one, I still like this author’s voice and I will be definitely reading the next book.